I’ve got particular tastes. I wouldn’t call myself “picky” because that’s clearly what I was when a small fry but I will say that I’m particular. Take potato salad, for instance. Not too long ago, I posted my angst over a particular restaurant’s desire to repulse my stomach while clogging my arteries with their gloppy mayonnaise version of this summer potluck favorite. I prefer the tang of vinegar to the smudge of mayonnaise. I prefer the crispness of roasted potatoes to the mushiness of boiled. When it all comes down to it, I prefer my potato salad to anyone else’s. I suppose it’s only fair to let people in on a secret that isn’t even mine. Point of fact, it’s a recipe passed down to me from my mother-in-law who actually gleaned it from the Entertaining section of The New York Times in 1989.
I bring this potato salad to picnics and parties where people never believe that I’m actually giving them all the ingredients when they ask. I say, “It’s just a mustard-based vinaigrette with rosemary, garlic, and chives.” “No,” they say, “There’s something else in there. You put something else in there to make it really good — there’s a taste…something.” “That’s the rosemary,” I insist, “Or the chives. Or the fact that the potatoes are tossed with the dressing while they are still warm.” “No,” they state, “It’s something else.” Well, people, I don’t know what it is, but I’m giving you the recipe just so you can get the same reaction at your summer potlucks, picnics, and parties.
Roasted Potato Salad
From The New York Times, May 21, 1989, Entertaining Section, via my mother-in-law
Approximate preparation time: 45 minutes
2 1/2 lbs. small Red Bliss, Bintje or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 tbs. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbs. red-wine vinegar
1 tbs. grainy mustard
2 tsp. minced chives
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and cut them in quarters or, if they are more than two inches in diameter, in eighths. Place them in a single layer in the baking dish.
2. Scatter the garlic, three tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper over the potatoes, and toss. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, tossing gently every 10 minutes.
3. Beat the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining olive oil until smooth. Add the roasted potatoes and mix gently. Season, if desired, with additional salt and pepper, and cool to room temperature. Just before serving, fold in the chives and rosemary.
My mother-in-law’s notes:
Add garlic more than halfway through roasting process to avoid burning and resulting bitterness.
If you actually manage to have leftovers from this recipe — which is rare in my household — after storing in refrigerator, let potatoes come fully to room temp before serving.
Instead of chives, I like to use scallions.