The mention of potato salad ordinarily makes me bristle as it conjures up visions of the typical mayonnaise-bedraggled, artery-clogging slop you find at family picnics alongside giant bowls of goopy pasta salad, and even worse, the ever-dreaded marshmallow-studded jello salad. [Shudder.] Maybe it’s just my intense dislike of mayonnaise that has always turned me off of potato salad, or at least the typical American-style potato salad.
With barbeque and picnic season upon us, I beg you not to turn to American potato salad as your side dish out of familiarity or lack of inspiration. Instead, picture tangy blue cheese, a hint of mustard, and the crunch of walnuts as you bite into soft rounds of potato. Sounds good, no? This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen’s The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes, is a refreshing relief from tired old picnic fare, and is versatile enough to bring to the beach or serve at a summery dinner party. The dressing is light enough that the walnuts retained their crunch, even the next day, as I delightedly packed up the remainder for lunch-time leftovers. Lighter, healthier, and much more flavorful, this dish is a giant leap forward from the classic potato salad of days gone by.
It is worth noting that for sheer convenience, I made a couple of changes from the original recipe. The America’s Test Kitchen crew suggest using Roquefort and arugula (rather than my more pedestrian blue cheese and mixed baby greens), which would probably make this potato salad even more fantastic.
French potato salad with baby greens, blue cheese, and walnuts (serves 4-6)
2 lbs medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tbsp salt
1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and threaded on a skewer
1 1/2 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
4 oz blue cheese
1 small bunch of greens, washed, dried, and cut into bite sized pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
1. Place the potatoes and salt in a large saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium. Lower the skewered garlic into simmering water for 45 seconds, then remove and run the garlic under cool water to stop the cooking. Remove the garlic from the skewer and set aside.
2. Simmer the potatoes, uncovered, until tender but firm (a thin-bladed paring knife should slip into the center of the potato with no resistance), about 5 more minutes. Drain the potatoes, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water. Arrange hot potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
3. Press the garlic through a garlic press or mince by hand. Whisk the garlic, reserved cooking water, vinegar, mustard, oil, and pepper together in a small bowl until combined. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the warm potato slices; let stand 10 minutes.
4. Put the dressed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, then add the shallots, walnuts, cheese, and greens, stirring thoroughly.