Served warm, this Potato Salad with Capers, Shallots and Mustard is bursting with lively flavors and sophisticated enough to go with anything. Recipe below.
When it comes to lists, I’m a rank amateur. A little over a month ago, I raided my archives and came up with a list of five easy meals for summer. Thought I was pretty cool, giving readers a smorgasbord of summer cooking ideas. Then the New York Times’ Minimalist, Mark Bittman, came out with not one, but two lists. First, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. He followed it a few days later with 101 Simple Salads for the Season. That’s two lists of 101 recipes each.
Granted, his lists are more ideas than they are complete recipes. [Example: “Soak couscous in boiling water to cover until tender; top with sardines, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.”] And granted, writing about food is what he does for a living. Oh, yeah. And the sun was in my eyes. Waa, waa, waa. Suddenly, my brilliant list of five felt like small potatoes.
Which segues nicely into this lively potato salad. I’m a huge fan of American mayonnaise-based potato salads, especially served alongside ribs, burgers or other barbecue fare. But what this warm, mustard/lemon juice-based dish does for small red potatoes is a whole other thing. Makes it “grown up,” as Mr. Bittman says, right at home cozying up to a steak or fish fillet or roast—or just about anything.
This potato salad is roughly based on numerous French recipes, never a bad place to start in my book. But it substitutes whole grain mustard for Dijon and lemon juice for vinegar and/or white wine. The capers and chopped shallot bring lots of flavor to the party, and the parsley adds a fresh, calming note. You know a recipe is working when there’s nothing you would add or take away from it, for fear of creating something less.
Here’s Mr. Bittman’s original recipe: “30. Fast, grown-up potato salad: Boil bite-size red potatoes. While still warm, dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley. Chopped shallots, bell peppers, etc., all welcome, too.” Here’s what I did with it.
Potato Salad with Capers, Shallots and Mustard
Serves 3 to 4 [can be doubled—probably a good idea, in fact]
1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 teaspoons whole grain mustard
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup capers [chopped if large]
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots [about 1 medium]
2/3 cup roughly chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Scrub the potatoes and place in a large pot and cover by two inches with cold water. Salt generously and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just cooked, 10 to 15 minutes. When you can pierce them easily with a fork, they’re done. Drain in a collander and set it in the top of the pot to let them cool slightly.
While the potatoes are cooking, whisk the olive oil, mustard and lemon juice together in a small bowl. As soon as the potatoes are cooled enough to handle [but only just—you want this dish warm], slice them into halves and place them in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing again to combine, drizzle it over the potatoes and stir gently with a wooden spoon to coat potatoes. Add the capers, shallots and parsley to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Adjust seasonings with salt [if needed] and pepper. Serve immediately. When you do, note that the capers and bits of shallot will want to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Make sure to spoon some over each serving.
I got nothing. Except that this was really, really, really good and Mark Bittman is my hero. Keep the lists coming, man.