Farmers Market Potato Salad

Tasting Potatoes, Danish-style

I discovered this fresh and light-handed salad years ago when I lived in Denmark. Most likely it was at one of our frequent family gatherings, seated outdoors at a long wooden picnic table in the shadow of a thatched roof farmhouse with the summer sun hanging, as if caught on the hook of the horizon, refusing to sink as the evening set in. It was certainly summer, because that’s when new potatoes are at their peak in Denmark, and considered not only a staple but a delicacy to be greedily devoured.

I was smitten by the salad’s restraint, simply tossed with oil and vinegar, and generously layered with freshly snipped flowering sprigs and herbs from the garden. As an American, my experience with potato salads to that point had been the heavy-handed mayo and egg sort, tasty for sure, but more of a cloak and disguise to the mild-mannered potato. I would prod a fork through those murky salads swathed in cream, sugar, and oil in an attempt to fish out any intact morsel of potato, which by then had no flavor except that of the coating with which it was blanketed. The Danish potato salad was delightfully different, and appropriately Scandinavian in its understatement and use of fresh ingredients, celebrating the humble potato with a confetti of garden herbs. Most importantly: I could taste the potato.  And when the season’s newest potatoes are available, delicately sweet and faintly redolent of butter, there is nothing as sublime as the taste of potato.

As you can see, I chose blue potatoes for this salad, since I love their unusual color and how they contrast with the flowering yellow mustard greens I found at the farmers market. You can also use yellow or red new or small potatoes. The combination of herbs is up to your taste and whatever might be growing in your garden or stashed in your fridge. If you can find flowering mustard, add it to the mix or use it as a garnish, since it adds a nice peppery bite and vibrant color to the salad.

Danish Potato Salad with Garden Herbs

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes plus cooling time
Serves 6

3 pounds new potatoes or small potatoes (red, white, or blue), washed
Salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chervil, chives, tarragon, coarsely chopped
Flowering mustard sprigs for garnish

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and let stand for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

2. Cut the potatoes in half or large bite-size pieces. Add the potatoes, the oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper to a large bowl and stir to thoroughly combine. Cool to room temperature.

3. Before serving, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired. Add the fresh herbs and stir to blend. If the salad is too dry, add additional olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

Peppery Potato Salad

pepper potatoes tastefoodNo-Mayo Potato Salad with Sweet and Spicy Peppers  

This no-mayo potato salad is packed with peppers. Early fall yields a rainbow of pepper fruit at the farmers market – sweet bells, cherries, hungarian, fresnos, jalapanos and poblanos – it’s impossible not to scoop up a bag’s worth of these beauties simply for their colors and impossible shapes. The trick is to find all sorts of ways to put them to use. Here is one – this peppery potato salad.

The key ingredient in this salad (aside from the peppers and potatoes!) is white balsamic vinegar which lends a gentle fruity acidity. Do not substitute traditional balsamic vinegar as its dark color and syrupy consistency will overwhelm the salad. Use, instead, a high quality white wine vinegar and add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the salad.

Peppery Potato Salad

A little spice is nice! Mix up the peppers to your taste, adding a combination of sweet and hot peppers. Serves 6 to 8.

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
Sea salt
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dried mustard, such as Colmans
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, optional
1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 to 2 Jimmy Nardello or sweet Italian red peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves

Quarter the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add the vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, the mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and chili flakes. Stir to combine, breaking up any large chunks of potatoes, and let stand at room temperature until lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and the remaining ingredients. Stir to thoroughly combine, and taste for seasoning. You may want to add a little more salt or a pinch of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the peppers.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.