A Simple Potato Salad

Potato salad is a moveable feast and one that is always appreciated. It’s usefully make-ahead and goes with anything and everything, perfect for al fresco, bbq and pic-nic. I often just eat it on its own, sometimes with a soft-boiled egg and a few anchovies from a can. There are so many good add-ons. Chives are my favourite and lift the basic salad in looks as well as the piquancy of its mild onion flavour. Mint is another good herb to add but humungous amounts of flat leaf parsley or coriander transform it in another direction. Black olives with their salty, creamy texture work well and so do chunks of another salty charmer, Greek feta cheese. Yesterday we had a very simple, ready-in-10 minutes version made with the last of my Jersey Royals. It was a joy (well almost) to scrape away their flaky, easy-off, soft skin boiled tender in 10 minutes while I made an ersatz mayo dressing. There are occasions, usually in a French bistro (sigh), when sliced potato is tossed with vinaigrette. There is the most wonderful version inspired by salade cressonniere in Joel Robuchon’s esquisite Le Meilleur & Le Plus Simple de la Pomme de Terre, with shallot in the vinaigrette, a mix of soft herbs, watercress and grated egg. My version is on page 39 of One Pot Wonders. Overall though I prefer a mayo-based dressing, usually slackened by lemon juice or a pale vinegar with a lick of Dijon mustard and enough olive or other oil beaten in to dropping rather than pouring consistency, so it clings in a sloppy way to the potatoes. When I can be bothered I add finely diced shallots that I’ve left in sufficient boiling water to cover for 5 minutes and then drained and left in a little white wine or cider vinegar. Whether to slice, chunk, leave whole and aiming to chose similar size potatoes that cook evenly and at the same time is another dilemma. I always peel/scrape them and always toss them in their dressing while warm and leave them for at least 10 minutes before tossing again and adding any herb garnish. After all, if the potatoes aren’t scraped, how can they soak up the flavour of the dressing? But, whichever way you go with potato salad, there are rarely leftovers.

Serves 2 greedily

Prep: 10 min

Cook: 15 min

500g small or similar sized new potatoes

1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise (I like Stokes or Hellmann’s)

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine or cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive or other vegetable oil

small bunch chives

     Scrub/scrape the potatoes and boil in salted water until tender. Meanwhile, spoon the mayo into a mixing or serving bowl (I usually make it in a mixing bowl and transfer whilst stirring/folding with a spatula at final garnish stage), stir in the mustard then the lemon juice and gradually beat in the oil to make a smooth, thick dressing. Leave whole potatoes whole, halve or thickly sliced medium ones and add to the bowl. Season with black pepper. Toss the hot potatoes thoroughly through the dressing and leave until ready to serve. Snip most of the chives over the top, stir again (or transfer to a serving bowl), stir again and serve with a final flourish of chives.