There are many potato salad recipes out there and many of them short on flavor. But how do you get flavor into potato salad—so it tastes as good as sweet memories? I follow my mother’s technique. She cut the potatoes while they were still warm, and poured a simple vinaigrette over, so they marinated as they cooled, absorbing the acidity of the dressing. Sometimes these potatoes would rest in the fridge for a few hours, but if she was in a hurry, the marinating time would only be as long as it took to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Be sure to boil the potatoes in amply salted water—potatoes love salt and if you salt early, you won’t want to keep adding salt at the ‘season to taste’ part of the recipe.
2 pounds red waxy potatoes, All Red potatoes, or any potato for that matter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 or 3 stalks celery, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil, enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch or so. Salt the water, about a teaspoon per quart of water. Add the potatoes and simmer, partially covered, with the lid ajar, until they are just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Make a vinaigrette dressing: whisk the garlic and mustard with the vinegar. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking, and season with the salt and cayenne.
While the potatoes are still hot, but cool enough to handle, cut into 3/4-inch chunks. Toss them with the vinaigrette to coat and allow to marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 2 hours or even overnight.
Add the celery, mayonnaise and basil to the potatoes and stir all together. Stir in the eggs, if using. Season to taste with more salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.