With each new summer cookout looms the threat that someone is going to show up with those clear plastic containers from the deli counter of potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. Now, rumor has it that these salads actually contain potatoes, macaroni and cabbage, but the protective coating of mayonnaise obscures any possible proof.
Okay, that was a bit of hyperbole, but listen. Most summer cookouts abound with rich, grilled meats and sauces, toasted buns and baskets of chips and dip. What I want from my salad is something light and bright to balance the plate, and a gloopy heap of mayonnaise just doesn’t cut it. Enter the “French” potato salad.
Like may other American “French” delicacies like fries, toast and dressing, I’m not sure how French this is, but I think they would approve. Boiled potatoes are tossed, still warm, in a sharp, buttery vinaigrette, with garlic or shallots and fresh herbs. They soak up the dressing and release the flavorful oils from the greens; exactly what you want sitting next to your burger, hanger steak or chicken thighs, complete with flawless grill marks.
Mint and garlic – or garlic scapes – are wonderful in spring, but experiment throughout the summer. Toss with halved cherry tomatoes and basil, use fresh tasting tarragon and shallots, baby arugula or minced red peppers. But please, I’ll take my potato salad without mayonnaise. and I like my burgers rare.
French Potato Salad with Mint and Garlic Scapes
- 4 cups small potatoes like baby reds or fingerlings
- 3 tbs chopped mint
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes or two cloves minced garlic
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil – the good stuff!
- Boil potatoes in salted water until still firm but easily pierced through to the center with the tip of a knife. Drain potatoes.
- Meanwhile, mince garlic and mash it into a paste with coarse sea salt. Whisk together with Champagne vinegar. Season with pepper and set aside for 10-15 minutes allowing the flavors to develop.
- Mix mint and garlic scapes in a salad bowl.
- Cut warm potatoes in 1” pieces – halved or quartered – and toss with mint and garlic scapes. The heat will release oils in the mint.
- Whisk oil into vinegar mixture in a steady stream until creamy. Toss with potatoes. Dress lightly so not to overpower the other flavors.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional mint.