When a recipe uses the word “French” in its title, I think it tends to make people a little nervous. Suddenly, it has an elusive, exclusive air and speaks with the hint of an accent. “Will it be too fancy, too hard to make?” wonder would-be cooks.
So trust me when I say that this recipe for “French” potato salad is down-to-earth, down-home-Vermont and couldn’t be simpler. It may be “French,” it may even call for capers and shallots, but I promise it’s not going to come up and ask you to conjugate the verb être or quiz you on Parisian restaurant recommendations.
In fact, it’s so at ease in America that I brought it to a family reunion last weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s farm near the Otter Creek over on the western side of the state. There were twenty Americans gathered together and we sat out in the glorious spring sunshine listening to cows mooing and chickens clucking. The grown-ups chatted while drinking domestic beer, kids gathered eggs from the coop and an occasional pickup truck rambled down the road. The potato salad, as well as all the rest of us, felt very much at home.
French Potato Salad
I always take it as a good sign when I make something and people ask for the recipe (this is for you, Rachel). I also think a dish must be a winner if the whole family swoops in before I’m even done mixing it together and starts nibbling. This delicious recipe for potato salad is adapted from the essential All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking and to many people’s relief, has no mayonnaise. It is dressed with a simple vinaigrette and feels perfectly at home in a French or American kitchen.
2 pounds red or other waxy potatoes (prepared as follows):
Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot with enough salted water to cover them. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, cool slightly and cut in thin slices.
Whisk together in a small bowl:
6 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely snipped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Add in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly:
6 tablespoons olive oil
Pour the dressing over the potatoes slices, toss gently to combine and serve warm ( I love this), at room temperature or chilled.