Here in Colorado, the end of picnic season is nearly here. I'm determined to take advantage of the last of the nice weather before the cold comes, and this weekend is the perfect time for it since it is a holiday weekend.
Picnics don't have to be a complicated thing. They can easily be an impromptu gathering of friends, and are also a great way to clean out your fridge and pantry: Cheese, radishes, peaches, water kefir or bread are all great things to share with friends at a picnic. Potluck-style picnics are my favorite because there is no pressure on the organizer to provide a lot of food, and even if you are arranging everything the same day there are always ready-made things everyone can bring like chips or fruit.
I really love making potato salad for picnics. Not the kind smothered in mayonnaise since that can get a little weird sitting in the warm outdoor air - I prefer to bring an oil-based potato salad to outdoor gatherings. Julia Child (all hail the queen!) talks about how to prepare a french potato salad in a similar way to what I have below, and the big trick I learned from her is that you want to let the potatoes soak in a bit of water (or wine or chicken stock) for at least 20 minutes after they cook and before you add the dressing, so that they won't gobble up too much of the oil. This technique lets the flavor of the dressing shine on top of the potatoes, rather than being overshadowed by the taste of the potatoes.
Picnics = perfect for kite flying too!
This recipe looks like it will take a long time to make because the directions are so long, but it really doesn't take more than 30ish minutes of active cooking time. The end result is fresh and delicious, with all the tastes of the salad perfectly balanced. I doubt you will have any leftovers to take home once the picnic is over!
Easy Potato Salad
What you will need:
1 clove of garlic
2 Tablespoons of vinegar (you can use whatever you have on hand: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or even elderflower vinegar!)
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of mustard (regular or dry)
1/2 cup of good quality olive oil
A hand full of roughly chopped fresh herbs (again, whatever you have on hand or in the garden will work: dill, cilantro, basil, etc)
1 finely chopped onion (I really like shallots in this recipe but you can also use scallions or red onions)
1lb of potatoes (they need to be waxy potatoes so they hold together after you cook them, like red, new or even purple sweet potatoes!)
Anything else you have on-hand that would taste good in the salad, like radishes or parsnips, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
First, steam the potatoes:
Place the potatoes in the top of your steamer above water (make sure they are not sitting in any water), cover and bring the water to a boil. It usually takes around 20 minutes for the potatoes to be cooked, and you will know if they are done if a knife inserts easily into the center of the potato. Take care not to overcook the potatoes, though, because if they are too cooked they won't hold together when you make the salad.
While the potatoes are steaming, you will make the dressing in a drinking glass, small bowl, mason jar, etc.
Press 1 clove of garlic into the container (if you don't have a garlic press, you can just finely chop or grate it)
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix it well into the garlic
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and beat everything together well.
While still beating the mixture, slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil until everything is well mixed and slightly frothy
Stir in your chopped fresh herbs
Once the potatoes are done, you can peel them if you like, or you can leave the skin on. While the potatoes are still warm, dice them into small cubes, place them into a large serving bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper. Next, pour around 1/2 cup to 1 cup of room temperature water into the bowl, just enough to make sure all the potatoes have some water on them. Let them sit like this for at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pour the excess water off, add the onion, the dressing and any additional ingredients you want to include like hard-boiled eggs, and gently toss the potatoes until they are all covered with the dressing. You can make this in advance and refrigerate it until you are ready to take it off to your picnic.
This recipe would also be great to accompany a backyard BBQ if that's what you have planned for this weekend too! Let me know if you decide to try this delicious recipe!