Have I mentioned before how much I love a good potato salad? It’s probably my favorite summer side dish (though, I’ve been known to make it, in various forms, in the dead of winter, too!). Potatoes are a blank canvas that can be layered with so many different flavors to accompany a variety of main dishes. Sometimes, the menu begs for a rich mayonnaise-based salad (like my favorite Bacon-Cheddar version I shared last year). Other times, I crave something a bit lighter and healthier, such as this French Potato Salad with Baby Arugula. Here, I toss creamy, delicate fingerling potatoes with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette, capers, thinly-sliced red onions, and peppery baby arugula. Served just slightly warm or at room temperature, I’ve made a meal out of this potato salad on its own more times than I care to admit!
I’ve always been a fan of European potato salads in general; German with bacon, French with fresh herbs. These vinaigrette-based salads bring bright, fresh, and robust flavors to the table, and pair well where the heaviness of mayonnaise would be overpowering. For French Potato Salad, I like to use champagne vinegar, but you can experiment with other vinegars you enjoy, such as sherry, white wine, or even a touch of white balsamic. Since potatoes are bland on their own, it’s important to toss them in the vinaigrette while they’re still hot and let them marinate to soak up all of the flavor. I usually fold the baby arugula into the salad after the potatoes have marinated, just before serving. The arugula will wilt down in the vinaigrette the longer it sits. It’s still totally delicious when this happens, but I’ve always thought that the freshly-dressed leaves make the prettiest presentation.
Since there’s no mayo involved (the perishability of which has become somewhat of a hotly-debated issue), vinaigrette-based potato salads are perfect picnic fare, especially as we head toward the “last hurrah” of Labor Day weekend barbecues. When I’m going to transport a potato salad to an outdoor party, or I know it’s going to be a particularly long or scorching day, I often turn to a vinaigrette-based recipe. Less worry, more time to enjoy the festivities!
In other fun news, I’m headed to the beach (or “down the shore” as we Jerseyans like to say) for a little mini-vacation this week. I’m staying at a lovely hotel in Stone Harbor, only a few blocks from the beach, right on the Shelter Haven Bay. There are some great waterfront dining options (calories don’t count on vacay!). The weather (fingers crossed) is going to be fantastic for soaking up the rays on the beach and playing in the bay (boating, paddle boarding, and cocktails in the sunset, can’t wait!). I’ll be posting pics of food and fun throughout my getaway, so stay tuned to my Instagram feed for the latest. See you in a few days!