I've eaten many-a-potato salad but I think this one is the best. Not surprisingly, it's a Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) recipe. I'm such a huge fan of Ina's- she's my culinary hero and basically responsible for my love of cooking (an interest which came to me later in life when I was pregnant with my first son). I grew up on frozen foods (blintzes, fish sticks, chicken-- before I was a vegetarian), iceberg lettuce, and spaghetti with, gasp...ketchup! My parents, to their credit, always made sure we had family dinner- every single night. But the task of preparing fresh, delicious meals required more time than they had. They worked full-time and had to juggle a million responsibilities. Maybe it was also "the times." Back in the 80's and early 90's, the variety of heirloom tomatoes and leafy greens that I can now buy ay my local markets (or through my CSA) was more difficult to find, if it even existed at all. The recent explosion of greenmarkets has made cooking with farm-fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients much easier.
By the time I got to graduate school in New Orleans, I (still) only had two 'spices' on my rack: salt and pepper. And I was a student, so cheap eats is what I did for lunch and dinner on most nights. Or I mooched a meal at my friend Yana's place (she is an excellent cook!).
When I moved back to New York, I worked so many hours that I never had time to cook. I ordered take-out for almost every meal. Maybe on a handful of occasions I took down my (one) pot or pan, but I was hardly a balabusta!
Then I got married (cookware, finally!), pregnant, and joined a CSA. I started to care about what I was putting into my body. I began downloading recipes from various food blogs and preparing dishes from top-notch cookbooks. I bought fresh herbs and spices. And then, after I gave birth and when the baby was sleeping, I would turn on the Food Network and watch "my stories"-- the Barefoot Contessa in the afternoon and again in the early evening. I became obsessed...you know, in a good way.
Now I cook pretty much every meal at home and I have two incredible taste-testers who anxiously wait to try everything that comes out of the kitchen.
Back to Ina's French Potato Salad...
The key is to use fresh herbs-- you absolutely can not use dried herbs for this little dish...that would be a faux pas!
|Flat-leaf parsley, basil and dill.|
French Potato Salad (Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
- 1 pound small white boiling potatoes
- 1 pound small red boiling potatoes
- 2 tablespoons good dry white wine (I always keep cooking wine- white and red- on hand)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable stock (optional- if you have it in your pantry.)
- 3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (I have also used 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar)
- 1/2- 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I tend to put about 3/4 teaspoon)
- 3/4- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste. Start with 3/4 teaspoon.
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 7-8 tablespoons good olive oil (the original recipe calls for 10, but I think that's unnecessary.)
- 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
Drop the white and red potatoes (cut in half) into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut them into quarters and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and vegetable stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, with more salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.