Bacon, herbs and potatoes. Nobody has to work very hard to sell this one.
This is potato salad the way I prefer it, without a jar of mayonnaise in sight. Vinegar and mustard stand in, giving the salad a sharper, fresher taste. We'll use those perfect little red potatoes. Don't even think about wasting time removing the skins. They add texture and nutrition.
Thyme, chives, rosemary and parsley bring color and vibrancy to this picnic standard. The bacon vinaigrette is irresistible, especially when dotted with whole mustard seeds and infused with thyme. A pat of butter thickens the vinaigrette into a more silky consistency right before you pour it over the steaming potatoes, ready to soak up all the flavor.
It's best served at room temperature or straight from the fridge. Speaking of the fridge, you'll find me going back for a few more bites of potato salad every time we have this salad at home. Just like Nigella Lawson at the end of her cooking show, though she usually is in her robe sneaking midnight bites of chocolate cake or leftover sandwiches or sausages. But that's how good this is.
Potato salad is one of those dishes expected at a potluck or picnic, and I like this particular recipe for its liberal use of herbs and the somewhat unexpected bacon. Prepare the salad ahead and the flavors will just get better as they meld in the fridge. If you go that route, I suggest reserving almost all of the chives and parsley and stirring them in just before serving. The herbs will stay bright green and keep the salad looking fresh.
Vinegar-based potato salads often are made with the potatoes cut into thin slices along with the red onions in a similar shape. That's always good, but I like the bite-sized pieces of potato here. The dish seems more substantial.
Make sure to have all your herbs, onion and bacon chopped before you start cooking. The water will boil faster if you don't. Once everything is chopped, it's a straightforward assembly. Just be prepared to bring this to every barbecue for the rest of the summer.
Ileana Morales is a freelance writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be contacted at [email protected]