Potato salad was one the first recipes I remember being allowed to make mostly on my own as a kid. Once the potatoes were cooked (always “par” boiled back then) they could be cut with a dinner knife; same went for the eggs. Hand a child some mayo and tell her, or him, to add enough pickle juice so the dressing can be poured on, “not too thick, not too runny, and not too much.” The real trick was trying to make up just the right amount. Season and taste. Sounds right: acid and fat, salt (regular and celery) and pepper. But as I got older, it just wasn’t.
The problem for me was not enough acid–I wanted bite, and crunch, and beauty–variation in the colors and textures.Plus, the potatoes from my childhood salads were disfigured after tossing even if they were chilled separately ahead of time. The peels were removed and discarded. And let’s face it, a big scoop old-fashioned potato salad in mid-afternoon is a bit of a gut bomb.
I really like this potato salad. It’s got the right ratios for me.
A goat cheese vinaigrette with some fresh citrusy herbs and a squeeze of lime is a great companion to the vegetables we’ve added. The recipe is pretty easy and fairly fun to make–the smell of roasted potatoes is far preferable to boiled potatoes. I reduce oven time by microwaving my CUT potatoes for 4-5 minutes prior to roasting. You can shave prep time and eliminate some stress by doing the dressing a day ahead. Make a big enough batch to have on hand for other vegetables, green salads, or to put a drizzle on a grilled white fish in the coming days.
Yes, of course, your potluck picnic spread should also include traditional potato salad made from scratch with grandma’s recipe, or even better, by grandma herself. It’s quite possible your spouse may still like that one more.
Happy July 4th!
***Note: There is no right or wrong way to make this salad–use whatever vegetables you like in the ratios that are pleasing to you. Suggestion: do use a second roasted vegetable along with the potatoes (you’ve got space on the sheet pan so toss something else on for the first few minutes of roasting time); keep the other vegetables raw for crunch.
Turn oven to 425-450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Wash and dry the potatoes and cut into pieces as shown above. Place them in a bowl and microwave for 4-5 minutes. Check the potatoes after 3-4 minutes to make sure the skins are not separating or the potatoes are breaking apart. If you don’t have a microwave then you will have to just roast longer (about 15-20 extra minutes).
Trim up ends of the asparagus taking off about ½ inch of the white base. Let potatoes cool for a few minutes out of the microwave then toss gently with 2-3 T olive oil. Spread the potatoes on the sheet pan and set the asparagus spears above them. If a few of the potatoes look too large make another cut in them so the pieces are fairly uniform. Use a brush to spread the excess oil onto the top of the asparagus and to touch up any part of the potatoes that did not get oil (you don’t need to turn either vegetable over, the oil will drip down and around the pieces). Add a few drops more oil if you used less than 3 T and need it. Don’t be too fussy–no more than 20 seconds getting the vegetables brushed with oil.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and set timer for 8 minutes. During this time rinse the celery and cut into pieces. Do the same with the green onion (only a little smaller pieces). Cut the red onion in half lengthwise, placing the cut sides down then slice into long narrow strips, parallel to your first cut. This method lessens the chance of cutting yourself and reduces eye sting. Rinse and thinly slice the radishes. Cut the thin rounds in half if you desire.
Once 8 minutes has gone by remove the sheet pan (pictured below) and take the asparagus off to cool. You want to preserve the nice green color–the asparagus will still continue to cook a bit and may be a touch more yellow even out of the oven. Don’t run them under cold water–it will spoil the roasted flavor and wash off the oil. Return the sheet pan with just the potatoes to the oven for another 15 minutes or so.
While the potatoes continue roasting combine all the ingredients for the dressing into a jar or a 2+ cup glass measuring cup/pitcher, beginning with the oils and adding the cilantro last. I mixed mine in a larger measuring pitcher for easy stirring and then poured it into the smaller one for the photo so the amount of dressing the recipe made was more visible. The goat cheese in this vinaigrette settles quickly and will require a stir right before you dress the vegetables.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remember the dressing will be different once it’s on the vegetables, especially the potatoes. They will mellow out its tartness.
Remove potatoes from the oven at 22 minutes–they can go longer if you like, it’s your preference. I like them less crisp than standard roasted potatoes.
Cut the asparagus into pieces and place all the vegetables excluding the potatoes into a large bowl–the wider the bowl and more angled the sides the easier it is to dress and mix a salad. Cut any of the potatoes that are bigger than bite size. Add them to the bowl, and gently combine.
Finally, add the desired amount of dressing–I use about a third of it. This salad has lots of vegetables that are fairly watery so you don’t need too much vinaigrette, and you probably will need extra salt and pepper. Toss and taste, re-season if necessary.
Remember this dressing does include goat cheese so don’t leave it unrefrigerated very long.