My Maternal Family's Potato Salad


Any of my mother's siblings, sometime in the summer, if not often, will make this potato salad. And I love that they are all so different, and yet they all make this pretty much the same way. I mean maybe a different brand of mustard, or one day one will use purple potatoes, yet taste wise, feel wise, this does not matter. I think that is the beauty of food, of family food memories. For me, it is *the* potato salad. I made it for our potluck wedding, I delegated the other salads to good friends, yet this one, I stayed up and made the night before. You see, there is no recipe really, be it a big batch or a small batch, I make it entirely based upon ... my mother's memory, upon feel, sense, and each time it is a bit different, and each time it is perfectly the same too. So, this recipe, I share so humbly. I tried my best, I did measure, yet also please know, if you want more mustard, add more, if you want more onion, add more, and the same with less. This is a dish that has been passed down through feeling, through what makes sense, not through stressing over the presence of this or the absence of that.


For example, you can use shallots, green onions, thinly sliced red onion, chives ... or a combo of each ... just do not use white onions, smiling, never. You can add blanched green beens directly to the salad, you can serve them chilled on the side, you can not serve them at all. If you have parsley, wonderful, if you do not, and just used thinly sliced red onion, it would still count as delicious.


For potatoes, do not use russet if you can avoid. Do use gold or golden potatoes, or red bliss, or purple or a combo.


You do not need to use any aged thick syrup-y balsamic vinegar for this either. Use a good standard one, but save that syrup-y variety for something else entirely, it will be lost and just, overpower this.


In this recipe, which serves 4 I'd say as a side, I used:

  • 4 cups cut up potatoes

  • maybe 1/4 of a red onion thinly thinly sliced

  • 1 dollop of mustard, dijon or whole grain, not yellow (a rounded tablespoon)

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

  • I had chives growing outside and parsley, so I picked a bit of each and added them both at the end. If you have this, lovely, if not, no worries.

  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until they are tender, yet not mush. For me, this day, that was 10-15 min. While the potatoes are boiling, make the dressing so you can pop the steamy potatoes into it after you drain and they'll absorb a lot more flavor that way.


To make the dressing, in the bottom of a medium sized bowl add the mustard, then the vinegar, and whisk to combine, use a fork or a whisk, does not matter. Then add in the oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Then once the potatoes are cooked, drain them to get rid of any water that will muddy this, then pop the steaming potatoes into the dressing and toss to coat. I add the thinly sliced red onion or shallots now, as the heat from the potatoes usually ... doesn't cook, yet wilts and milds them a bit ... if using green onions or chives or parsley, add those once the potatoes have cooled to room temp.


If you are into Salad Nicoise this is the perfect potato salad for that. I make all the extras often and just eat a vegetarian version and it is delicious.




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