I love potato salad, if often more in theory than in reality. To me, goopy is only occasionally appropriate, and never in a potato salad. But as John Thorne has said "We are so used to thinking of potato salad as a fixed constellation in the culinary firmament that it almost comes as a shock when the words are reversed into a "salad of potatoes," and it dawns on us that we might do something else with them besides drowning them in mayonnaise, chopped pimento, and hard-boiled egg."
I, however, am not one to diss the classic American potato salad. Well made, it can be a revelation, as there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good (homemade even) mayonnaise and some hard-boiled egg. The combination can be nothing short of velvet. However, it is not the kind of salad I tend to make. I've made several versions since starting this blog, one with sweet potatoes, and one with purple potatoes with mayonnaise and vinegar. This one, however, just might be my favorite. It is also by far the most involved (funny how that works) but the effort is worth it and can be done in steps.
Potato Salad with Home Marinated Artichokes and Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette
Slightly adapted because of what was in the kitchen from Annie Somerville's wonderful Fields of Greens
2 pounds new or yellow finn potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Artichokes with Lemon (recipe follows)
3 scallions, sliced thin (or better, 2 shallots also thinly sliced)
Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon drained capers
12 Niçoise olives
Oven preheated to 400 F. Either toss the potatoes with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Arrange on a baking dish, cover, and bake until the potatoes are tender, 35-40 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the artichokes. Toss the shallots or scallions with a splash of Champagne vinegar, which will draw out the color of the shallots. Make the vinaigrette
When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and cut into quarters. While still warm, toss with the vinaigrette, shallots and capers, as well as the artichokes and olives. Season with salt and pepper.
This salad is wonderful served right away, still a bit warm, and just as good once it's chilled in the fridge.
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (zest of about 1/2 a small lemon)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of about 1 small lemon)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch or two of pepper
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or a combination of water and olive oil (I used 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoon water)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the oil and tarragon. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the tarragon.
Artichokes with Lemon and Mint
3 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from about 1 1/2 large lemons)
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
4 medium globe artichokes
Combine everything other than the artichokes into a large saucepan. Cut off the artichoke stems, then peel away the tough outer leaves, down to the tender, pale green leaves. Cut off the prickly tops and quarter the artichokes. Remove the choke (the furry inner part as well as the red leaves on top) and add the artichokes to the saucepan as you go.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until the artichokes are tender, about 7-8 minutes. Strain the artichokes out of the marinade and use.
A few things to keep in mind for a good potato salad:
* It is best to roast the potatoes in their skins, which helps them to keep their shape.
* You can peel them, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. But the important thing is to dress them while they're still warm so they absorb the flavors.
* Some people argue that Idaho and russet potatoes are best at absorbing flavors, but new potatoes, fingerlings and yellow fin are also good choices.
* I tend to keep my potato chunks on the large size, so they don't loose their structure and so they become more like dressed potatoes, rather than a mush of ingredients.