Friday, September 3, 2010

French Potato Salad with Herbs, and So Cal Summer Salad round-up

So remember allllll the way back in June when I said I would feature healthy salads regularly throughout the summer?  That little thing called So Cal Summer Salads that I very ambitiously promised I would keep up with?  Can you remember that far back?  Personally, I am having trouble remembering, partly because June seems so distant now that it is officially September, but it also may be that my mind has become suspiciously clouded with desserts, and summer fruits, and cakes...trying to see the light of leafy greens and vegetables through all that sugary haze has been nothing less than fun-filled delicious journey, of which I don't regret a single bite.  This summer, whether it has been sweet or savory, crunchy or creamy, I can definitely say I have eaten well.  

As September dawns and fall approaches, I can't really say that I anticipate radically changing any of my eating philosophies.  Oh sure, I could tell you I might try eating more healthy, or chowing on more apples and less ice cream (We all know this is a lost cause at this point.  How about less apples and more ice cream?).  But the truth is, I like eating and cooking and baking loads of different things, and the thought of focusing specifically on one thing or another doesn't sit well with me.  Where am I going with this?  

Well, with the launch of Project Food Blog from Foodbuzz (which I am SUPER excited about btw), I have taken a little bit of a timeout to ponder a big question...what is really going on here at The Cilantropist?  I mean, what am I doing here on this little webspace I like to call home?  The analytical side of my brain has been feverishly trying to fit myself into some sort of food-blogger mold, so that I can stick a shiny new label on this blog so everyone knows exactly what they are getting.  This feels much like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and thats not comfortable for anyone.   In contrast, the creative (and hungry) side of my brain seems say, "What's all this hooplah about?  We're having fun with this whole cooking and writing thing aren't we?  And we feel inspired!  And even better, we are eating... really eating...So lets just keep it up!"  Being a scientist, the analytical part of my brain usually wins out, but I think here I need to cave to creativity; because honestly, here on this site I am just sharing my adventures in eating well, feeding those I love, and living the good life.  And isn't that enough?   

So before I get off on too much of a self-reflective tangent here, what I really wanted to do today is share with you the last of my So Cal Summer Salads for this year.  Fall is upon us, but I figured I could squeeze in one more recipe in this series, mostly because Labor Day is coming up this weekend as sort of a last hurrah for summer.  So run out and gather up those last summer leaves of fresh basil, wispy dill, and flat-leaf parsley.  Then grab an armful of those lovely small potatoes that are cropping up at the farmers markets right now.  And finally, toss them all together with some fruity olive oil and sweet-tart champagne vinegar, and Voila!  You have a light, fresh potato salad that would be perfect for any Labor Day festivities you have going on this weekend.  The recipe is really so easy, and I have made it dozens of time over the last few years and everyone always loves it. 

And with that I will close this little series that didn't quite get as big as I had planned... so lets say a final Bon Voyage to the salads of summer with a listing of So Cal Summer Salads from The Cilantropist: 

....Oh wait, theres more!  In case you didn't get enough salads and are hungry for more, I am excited to announce that I am lucky enough to work with Fresh Express to feature their new Artisanal Salad Blends this fall!!!  I will be part of their Artisan Ambassador program, so stay tuned for delicious, healthy recipes featuring in-season greens, recipe contests (and prizes!), and even a little documentary about my own escapades growing artisanal lettuces.      

French Potato Salad with Herbs
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten

You can almost use any potatoes for this salad, with the exception of russet. When they are available and not too pricey, I love to use little fingerling potatoes, either just sliced in half once or left whole.  Especially at the farmers markets now, there are lots of small potatoes in a rainbow of colors which would make for beautiful salad combined with the green herbs.  The key is that whether you choose a variety of different potatoes, or get all of the same type, they need to be similar in size so they cook evenly.  Lastly, I feel like the champagne vinegar is really a key ingredient here, and gives the dish a beautiful brightness; so, if you don't have it, I would highly recommend purchasing it.  If you would rather not, you could substitute another light wine vinegar instead.  

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 lbs. small potatoes, red-skinned, yukon gold, fingerling, whatever your preference
2 tbsp. dry white wine
2 tbsp. chicken stock
2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1/4 cup olive oil, or more if needed
3 tbsp scallions, minced*
2 1/2 tbsp dill, minced* 
2 1/2 tbsp chiffonade of basil leaves*
1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, minced*
*I adjusted the ratios of these herbs to suit my tastes, and none of the measurements are crucial.  Go with what tastes good to you!

Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until they are just tender. Depending on the size of your potatoes, this might be just 15 minutes for super small ones, or up to 30 minutes for larger ones.  Drain the potatoes in a colander, and place a kitchen towel over the colander to let the potatoes steam for about another 10 minutes. Since they are steaming here, you want to be especially sure you don't overcook them in the pot or they will become mushy.

Remove the potatoes from the colander, and halve or quarter them, depending on size.  (Here, please don't use my photo as an example for size. I was in a hurry, and cut my potatoes way too big.)  Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl, and toss them with the white wine and chicken stock, allowing the liquids to permeate into the warm potatoes. 

To make the vinaigrette, combine the champagne vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil slowly, and when you have a smooth emulsion, add it to the potatoes, along with the scallions, dill, basil and parsley.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and toss to coat.  Serve the potato salad warm or at room temperature.  


  1. looks tasty! i love herbs paired with potatoes. so fresh and filling. great round up of salads, too!

  2. Yum!! I love this recipe! Your photos are BEAUTIFUL!!

  3. I love these pictures. And that potato salad is probably the prettiest potato salad I've ever seen! I love the herbs and colours.

  4. I love the fresh scent of herbs, great dalad!

  5. Beautiful! Can't wait to make this. It's a twist on one I've made for years. Kate @ kateiscooking

  6. This salad is filled with so many delicious fresh herbs. So many good things going on! All of the so cal salads throughout the summer have been awesome. Can't believe it's Septemeber already!

  7. The french potato salad looks so good with all those green herbs on it and miracle of miracles, I think I actually have all that I need to make it!
    I think your MO for the blog is just what you want to do with it and enjoy it. No shiny new labels needed.

  8. I am really enjoying your photos lately!

  9. Girl, were are on the same page! I was laughing as I was reading, about the "why am I here?" and the analytical and creative lobes of your brain going at it. I sooooo feel ya. I'm super excited about Project Food Blog too!!!

    I love this book of Ina's. Isn't she great! This looks like the perfect "end of summer" salad.

    P.s. the first post I ever read of yours was the red cabbage salad and I was so impressed. It's so pretty!

  10. colourful salad delicious
    check out the event in my site

  11. What a perfect potato salad. I love my potato salads with lots of herbs and this fits the bill. The other salads look great, too. It's ok if you have to abandon an idea for say...a peach obsession :) Whatever tangent you go on, it will still be tasty!

  12. What beautiful salads! Your photos are really lovely with so much texture and color going on in them. I completely know what you are going through with the Project Food Blog thing. I imagine a lot of us are doing a lot of introspection these days.

  13. I'm not much of a salad person, but these all look great!

  14. we always cook with cilantros! its a must in my kitchen. =)

  15. Look at all those delicious salads! I'm all over that lemony bean and tomato one; yum!

    I'm so with you on project food blog. I feel like a small fish in a big pond so I'm really trying to think it out and just pray I come up with something good. Honestly, I'll be excited if I make it past round one!

  16. Yum... looks so fresh! I think I remember seeing Barefoot Contessa make this on TV.

  17. I am heading to a BBQ this weekend. I am a huge Ina fan and her recipes alwasy come out wonderful. You have inspired me to create this potato salad. Enjoy your holiday weekend!!!

  18. I love potato salad, your version looks so flavorful.....the other salads would be a great addition to any table! What a great way to celebrate Labor day!

  19. This salad looks so flavorful and nutritious:)

  20. The salad looks so fresh and flavourful with champagne vinegar.

  21. Gotta love Ina! The is looks amazing and definitely will carry into the fall. I loved looking back at all your wonderful salads--especially the cabbage-pistachio one!

  22. I love potato salads but don't get to make them very often as my partner thinks they're boring... I'm sure this would definitely make him change his mind, the fresh herbs and vinaigrette combination sound delicious!

  23. Bookmark! This is great. I love summer salads- especially potato salad with local potatoes!

  24. Thanks all for the kind words about my photos and my collection of summer salads! Also good to know that many others are doing some soul-searching for Project Food Blog... we are all in it together and it will be fun. :)

    Lauren: You are awesome. I feel like we are so often on the same page, and it is also great to hear that you first found my blog through my red cabbage salad and loved it; it is one of my favorite posts!

  25. This is my idea of a potato salad...wonderful, and the photos too :)

  26. I love anything with dill in it ..mmm

  27. I love salads and Potato salads.
    A lot of great ideas here.