Earlier this week, when good friends came for an overnight visit, I prepared Salade Nicoise for lunch and an all-American comfort food menu for supper. The latter included pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, a corn gratin, and easy-to-make potato salad. The potato salad –a big hit with our guests–was especially simple to assemble.
The secret to its robust taste was the garlic mayonnaise, or aïoli, that I used to dress the potatoes and hard boiled eggs. Instead of making the aïoli from scratch, I saved time by using good quality purchased mayo (think Hellman’s), enhancing it with finely grated garlic cloves, grainy Dijon mustard, and fresh lemon juice. Along with the chopped hard boiled eggs, I paired the diced potatoes with chopped shallots and seasoned everything with fresh chives. As an option, you can sprinkle the salad with crispy, crumbled bacon. For color and a peppery accent, I served the potato salad on a bed of baby arugula drizzled with lemon juice.
This salad serves four to five generously or six with smaller portions. You can make the garlic mayo, cook the potatoes, and hard boil the eggs a day ahead. On serving day the salad can be assembled three hours ahead so there’s no last-minute angst.
Offer this summer side dish as a garnish to grilled salmon or chicken or pair it with burgers, barbecued ribs, or pulled pork as I did. It’s delicious, versatile, and an added bonus, inexpensive.
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Summer Potato Salad with Quick Aïoli
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s works well.)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 medium garlic cloves, grated on a fine grater like a Microplane to yield about 1/2 teaspoon
1 1/2 pds small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), scrubbed but not peeled
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped (See cooking tip.)
3 tbsp chopped shallots
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped chives or flat leaf parsley for garnish
2 strips bacon, fried or microwaved until crisp, coarsely crumbled, for garnish, optional
1.For aïoli, place mayonnaise in a medium bowl and whisk in mustard, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a good pinch of cayenne. Using a fine grater (such as a Microplane), grate garlic cloves and stir into the mayonnaise. When finely grated, garlic cloves will resemble a puree; you’ll need 1/2 teaspoon.(Aïoli can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
2.Bring a large saucepan or pot set over high heat and filled 2/3 full with water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 10 to 12 minutes or more. (If you are using larger potatoes, cooking time will be several minutes more.) Remove potatoes and drain in a colander. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel and cool 5 minutes. Quarter potatoes (if large, cut into 8 pieces or cubes) and place in a serving bowl. Add chopped hard boiled eggs and shallots. Toss to combine. Stir in aïoli and mix gently. Season generously with salt to taste (potatoes need a lot of salt) and with several grinds of black pepper.(Salad can be prepared 3 hours ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate.)
3.At serving time arrange arugula on the bottom of a medium platter or shallow bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mound potato salad on top of arugula. Sprinkle with chives or parsley, and, if using, with crumbled bacon. Serves 4 to 5.
Cooking tip: To hard boil eggs, place eggs in a medium, heavy saucepan (with a lid) and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Place pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Cover and let stand for 12 minutes. Rinse eggs under cold running water to cool. Then remove shells.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2022