Potato Salad with Olives, Scallions and Fresh Herbs

by Food Hound on September 13, 2010

in Sides

Few times do I want to relate Ron White to any of my cooking–he is not healthy, nor is he overly attractive– but I cannot make potato salad without saying his catch phrase, ‘They call me tater salad,’ over and over. If you’ve never seen Ron White, you need to! His website, no joke, is www.tatersalad.com. LOVE IT.

So onto my latest culinary masterpiece. We’ll skip over my latest culinary blunder, which occurred earlier today while boiling barley for a lovely peach-barley-feta salad. Can’t mess up barley? Untrue. For the record, scorched barely smells awful, and we’re on round #3 of trying to scrub the pot. It’s bad. Not even the hound would touch it. Ew.
This post is aptly named because the killer recipe I want to share is, of course, potato salad. But not like the potato salad you find in the prepared section of the grocery store, where you’re lucky to find a piece of potato amidst the vat of egg and mayonnaise. I do like some versions of mayonnaise-based potato salads, but I prefer those made with a vinaigrette. Specifically, this one, which is fabulous. I’ve adapted it from a Fine Cooking recipe I found eons ago, and although it stays quite true to the original, there are a few key Food Hound alterations (which, of course, make it better :).

First, the original calls for white wine vinegar, but I much prefer the more exotique white balsamic vinegar. Way more depth of flavor, and not a lot of people use it so it’s a nice conversation piece if you’re into conversing about vinegar, which I totally am. I found it at none other than one of my many local guilty pleasures, Avanti Savoia. In fact, I was there today and have loads of new and fabulous goodies to try. I love my life! But I digress… The second change is minor, but I feel very strongly about leaving skins on potatoes: do it. I think it makes any dish look more rustic, and since chez Hound is not a three-star Michelin spot (yet :), I’m stickin’ to skins. The third change is that I don’t always add the olives. I love olives, any olives–especially those served in Spain because it means I am in Spain– but sometimes I want the flavor of the balsamic and olive oil to shine through. The salad is fabulous either way, but last night I said “non!” to les olives. And my last recommendation is to not make this dish until you have good olive oil. The potato is a canvas for this fabulous dressing, but it won’t have the flavor or body if you use el cheap-o olive oil. This is why you keep the good stuff on hand– use it!

This dish really calls for a simple main entree, and on this fine evening I chose to serve steak. The planets aligned well for the Booze Hound, I so rarely grill steak! But I go some beauties, and they were all grilled and resting on the counter when… the Doberhound entered the picture. We try with all our might, but she’s bad about counter-surfing. Stupidly, we left the gorgeous medallions of grilled beef within paws-reach, and my steak ended up in Doberhound’s stomach. It must have been like a scene from a National Geographic special on snakes consuming alligators because she only had about 60 seconds to devour it. So the Booze Hound had to share his with me, and we doubled up on potato salad. The Doberhound fell asleep belly-up in a steak coma shortly thereafter.

But what is the ultimate panacea for all things that can go wrong in the world of food preparation and Hound ownership? Vino! We had a lovely one last night, a French wine from Coteaux du Languedoc region (southern France, along the sea) called “Little Canyon.” I love French wine, and our liquor store has just beefed up their selection, woo hoo! It was delicious, and perfect with steak (or, in our case, half a steak :). Cheers!

Potato Salad with Olives, Scallions, and Fresh Herbs
adapted from Fine Cooking

Serves 8
3 lb medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar, just make sure it’s the good stuff)
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil (the good stuff!)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c chopped Kalamata olives (optional)
1/3 c finely chopped scallions
1/3 c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 T finely chopped mint leaves (or any combination of fresh herbs you like– I’ve made this with mint, oregano, tarragon, chives– they all work!)
Put the potatoes in a 6-qt Dutch oven, or similar pot, and fill with cold water until the potatoes are covered by at least one inch. Add 1 T salt, bring to boil over high heat, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 6-8 minutes from when the water boils (do not overcook or your potatoes will fall apart in the salad!).
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Season with pepper to taste. (**the potatoes are cooking in well-salted water, so I don’t add any salt to the dressing)
Drain the potatoes in a colander and spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. While they are still hot, drizzle them with about 3 T of the dressing, then let cool completely. This step is not to be skipped– it’s what saturates the potatoes with the dressing flavor and makes them irresistible!
Transfer the cooled potatoes to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with olives (is using), scallions and herbs. Pour about 1/2 c of the dressing over the salad, gently toss. Take care to break as few of the potato slices as possible! Let sit at room temperature for about an hour for the flavors to blend. This part makes this dish a great one to make ahead or take to a party! Add more dressing as needed before serving (you may not need to use all of it).
Click here for printable recipe. Fabulous!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Design Wine and Dine September 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

You know…I am embarrassed to say I’m not all that familiar with white balsamic, but now you know I must have it! Perfect kicked-up meat and potatoes! I’m with you as far as adding the olives, sometimes they can overpower a dish! This looks awesome, thanks for sharing the story and recipe.


Mary September 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I adore potato salad and am always open for a new recipe. I don’t post often but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the food and recipes you feature here. I love to visit here. I hope you are having a greta day. Blessings…Mary


Joanne September 15, 2010 at 3:31 am

I hate mayonnaise-y potato salad so this looks absolutely perfect to me! I love that you paired it with a steak. Perfect.


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