When most of us think about a "traditional" potato salad, one of the first things that comes to mind is probably mayonnaise. In the U.S., it's not a backyard barbecue without a bowl of spuds drowning in the creamy stuff, and you can always find a pint of it packed fresh at any decent delicatessen. Potato salad doesn't automatically have to equal mayonnaise, however. In fact, bottled mayonnaise is a relatively new product in the history of potato salad; it's only in the last 100 years that we've been using it to mix potatoes with other ingredients. So, if you aren't a big fan of mayo, you don't have to skip out on the sides. Try making a French-style potato salad instead; it's a throwback to New World recipes and made with only potatoes, oil, mustard, and herbs.
French-style potato salad is super easy to make and comes together in a flash. The one caveat is that there's no heavy mayonnaise to cover over the flavors of the ingredients, so it's important to use the best ingredients and the right potato varieties. You should also choose a good-quality olive oil to allow all the fresh ingredients to shine through. It's a little more elegant than its mayonnaise-y brethren, so it's perfect for serving with simple roasted or grilled meats, but it's also equally at home at a cookout. And the best part for those who aren't fans of the stuff is there won't be a drop of mayonnaise in sight.
Use Baby Potatoes
The history of potato salad can be traced almost as far back as the history of potatoes themselves. It was first introduced to Europe in the 16th century by Spanish explorers who brought the root vegetables home from the New World. Those early settlers didn't make potato salad the way many of us do now, however. It wasn't until mass-produced mayonnaise became a product in the early 1900s that it started to become popular in potato salad. Instead, people would often make salads using simple, garden-fresh ingredients and olive oil, and this method is still popular in European countries today, including France.
Just like comparing a salad dressed with vinaigrette and a salad topped with a creamy dressing, French-style potato salad is more delicate than a salad made with mayonnaise. As such, its flavor relies on using the freshest ingredients, starting with picking the right potatoes. French cuisine often uses the unique flavor of new potatoes, which are small potatoes that are harvested in the first 60 to 90 days after planting. These tiny spuds have very thin skins and taste creamy and sweet, which is perfect for a French-style potato salad. If you can't source new potatoes, fingerlings or baby Yukon golds are also a good choice.
Go For The Expensive Olive Oil
To preserve the delicate flavor of your new or baby potatoes, it's just as important to choose the rest of your ingredients carefully. Shallots are an ideal aromatic because they have a milder flavor than red or white onions. You can also use any combination of fresh herbs, including dill, parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil.
The most important ingredient after the potatoes themselves, however, is good-quality olive oil. There are a lot of olive oils available at the grocery store, but for this job, you should always use an extra virgin olive oil that is cold pressed. This type of olive oil is extracted from olives without heat or chemicals so it will have a fresh, clean peppery or grassy taste. This flavor profile will complement the flavor of the potatoes and let the herbs shine through.
Finally, it wouldn't be a French-style potato salad without a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard and some white wine vinegar to give it some acidity. The mustard that comes from the Dijon area of Burgundy, France is mixed with very dry white wine, which will give your salad the ideal kick, and even the biggest mayonnaise-based salad lover won't be able to resist.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.