Sunday, April 4, 2010

one 70 degree day

It's just turned into spring and already I'm anticipating graduation season and swimming in Miller's Pond and summer food. I love summer more than almost anything else in the world, and nothing makes me happier than a barbecue, especially if it's sunny and there's beer and friends. My only objection to barbecues is potato salad.

Potato salad has never been appetizing to me, maybe because I have only ever been served store-bought versions, served out of a plastic tub and disguised with enough mayonnaise to slather dozens of turkey sandwiches.

So, at a friend's beach birthday barbecue last summer, I volunteered to make the potato salad, if only so I would be able to eat it later. Ever heard of the term "winging it?" I am queen of winging it, especially in the kitchen. Sometimes I produce inedible disasters, but often, and especially (luckily) if the pressure's on, I produce something tasty. My potato salad recipe, which originated at that barbecue and has been edited and refined since then, is the result of winging it. My friend Eugenie, whose barbecue it was invented for, requests this potato salad regularly, and I make it for her happily because she enjoys it just as much.

So, even though it's spring outside (Happy Easter/Passover!), here's a little taste of summer, a small preview of what's to come this year.

Two-potato salad

6-8 small-ish yellow or red potatoes
2-3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
(Fun fact: Potatoes and sweet potatoes are not an everyday combination, but they go so well together because they're actually only very distantly related.)
one bunch scallions, chopped finely
one bunch parsley*, chopped finely
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tblsp. distilled white vinegar
1 Tblsp. spicy brown or Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil the potatoes (whole or halved, with skin on) 15-20 minutes, or until soft when poked with a fork. Drain and let cool.

Cube the potatoes (skin still on) into bite sized pieces, approximately 1/2 inch each, and return to the pot or place in a large bowl. If the potatoes are not completely cool, they will not cut cleanly and the end result will be more mashed potato-like in consistency than resembling potato salad, which I'm sure would also be delicious but is not the result we're going for here.

To the cubed potatoes, add the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper and toss to coat.

*Once, I substituted basil for parsley with tasty consequences, although I am a parsley fiend and still prefer my original intentions. Start with parsley, then consider that substitution as a possibility in the future.

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