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Summer Potato Salad with Dijon

May 19, 2016
Summer Potato Salad with Dijon

Who knew that potato salad could actually look pretty? You, too, can make something that looks this good. No summer cookout, picnic, or barbecue is complete without a bowl of potato salad to pass around. Am I right? This version of potato salad is dressed with Dijon mustard vinaigrette to add a bright pop of flavor. It’s also lighter and healthier than the typical fare, which—for me at least—means that I get to enjoy even more of it.

Potato salad is without a doubt one of my favorite summer side dishes. I realize that people can have very strong opinions when it comes to potato salad: eggs or no eggs, mayo or Miracle Whip, etc. With this recipe I am offering a slightly healthier (still extremely tasty) version, if you wish to try it. The mustard and vinegar dressing packs a nice punch, and the green beans add a satisfying crunch. Also I haven’t forgotten about you, egg fans. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to incorporate at the end.

The main reason that I like this salad is because it’s dairy-free, and much lighter easier on the stomach than recipes heavy on the mayo. So I can eat more, which is basically all I want.

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Turns out, not all potatoes are created equal. I’ve done some background research on potato salad so that you don’t have to. Red new potatoes and Yukon golds hold their shape really well for tossing in a potato salad. The purple potatoes that I used in this recipe started to break down more, but come on, I wasn’t gonna pass up purple potatoes. There are not many things my nearby grocery store (aka Soviet Safeway) stocks…I had to go to THREE stores to get dill, there was no powdered sugar…but it did have purple potatoes. I boiled the purple potatoes separately because I thought purple color might bleed into the other potatoes, so I tested one white potato in that pot. I can confidently confirm that the purple didn’t bleed. Phew. I knew you were wondering.

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To prepare potatoes for salad, place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous tablespoon of salt and then bring the water to a boil. On the internet there was a lot of talk about starting the potatoes in cold water versus boiling water. It turns out cold water helps the potatoes to cook more evenly (as does cutting the potatoes into pieces of the same size).

Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer so that the potatoes cook gently. Depending on the size of the potato slices, this can take 7-15 minutes. Once the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a small sharp knife, drain them in a colander. Do not rinse the potatoes, as was my first instinct. Since this recipe uses a vinaigrette, dress the potatoes while they are still warm so they can really absorb the vinaigrette flavors. (Versus a mayonnaise dressing, when you need to wait for the potatoes to cool or the mayo will get oily.)

A small side note/fun fact: in planning this recipe after camping last weekend, I thought that a mustard-based dressing would be able to sit out longer than one with mayo before the potato salad goes bad. It turns out that what you need to worry about is actually bacteria on the potatoes themselves, not the mayo. So don’t leave potato salad out for more than two hours without refrigerating.

End side note. Here are a few tips and tricks to get a picture-perfect potato salad to impress your family and friends, with little extra work required:

  • Grab a nice, very grainy Dijon mustard for the dressing. The mustard seeds add texture and pops of tang.
  • Slice the green beans at a slant. It’s fancier for some reason.
  • Slice those red onions really thin. I want to see tears, people.
  • Probably the simplest trick is to use potatoes of different color, and leave the skin on. The skins are thin enough that they’re no problem for eating the salad, and they add great variation to the dish (plus one less prep step!).
  • Lastly, and I’m giving you a real food photography trick here, so don’t tell anyone—fresh herbs. Lots of fresh dill and chives will make it look slightly messy but delicious.

You can impress them all with this simple and light potato salad. A twist on the classic, perfect to bring along to a Memorial Day barbecue or summertime picnic.

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Summer Potato Salad with Dijon
Serves 6
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  1. 2.5 lbs. small new potatoes (red, yellow, or purple), quartered
  2. 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  3. 2 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  4. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. 6 oz. green beans
  7. ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  8. 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  9. 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by an extra inch. Add a generous tablespoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 8-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a small sharp knife.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then transfer to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar and Dijon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and gently toss.
  3. Use the same pot to bring water to a boil for the green beans. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a bowl halfway with ice water. Transfer the green beans to the ice water bath for 1-2 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain the beans in the colander and pat them dry.
  4. Add the green beans, red onion, dill, and chives to the potatoes. Gently stir to evenly coat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
  1. Serves 6-8 as a side.
  2. The potato salad can be served right away, but really tastes better after being refrigerated for at least an hour.
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