14 July 2010

Potato salad with basil and dried tomatoes

Yesterday I made a potato salad that was perfect for the season. It was a full-meal salad with meat, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. The potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs came out of our vegetable garden. And it was delicious for lunch on a nice warm summer day.

A British potato variety called "rockets"

I'm gradually harvesting — digging — potatoes these days. Out of the 24 or more plants I put in the ground back in April, I've dug up about six. So far, I've been digging up the salad potatoes that bloggers Jean and Nick brought us from England. They're called "rockets" and sort of resemble American Yukon Golds — with a waxy texture and a sweet taste.

I like these charts that tell you how different kinds
of potatoes can be cooked. This one's British but
we have similar charts in France.

The other seed potatoes J & N were King Edwards, which are mealy (floury) rather than waxy, and which take longer to mature. They're good for baking, frying, and mashing. King Edwards are probably the quintessential British potato. I'll harvest mine in August and September.

A salad of potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs

It was Walt's idea to make a potato salad with basil. We're currently starting to harvest that too. Basil to me says "tomatoes," and we have those as well. Not this year's, but last year's, in the form of tomatoes that we dried in the oven and put up in jars. They're very sweet and just slightly chewy when you eat them.

A home-made ranch-style dressing with basil and other herbs

We didn't have enough basil ready, so we added some mint, which we have in abundance. Walt was trimming up some radishes too, so we added the nice green radish leaves. As a sauce for the potatoes, I made a kind of ranch dressing with mayonnaise, cream, and yogurt. I always make the mayonnaise myself, with Dijon mustard, white-wine or cider vinegar, an egg yolk, salt and pepper, and a blend of sunflower or colza oil and olive oil.

Hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with little smoked paprika

I also added meat to the salad — smoked pork lardons and chopped guinea-fowl (pintade) breast — but the meat is optional. I served the potato salad with hard-boiled eggs too, so it was a full lunch for us. You can put in cooked chicken breast, diced and chopped, or cooked, crumbled bacon (in France, lardons), or both, or none.

Diced boiled potatoes with chopped sun-dried tomatoes
and optional meats

Here's the recipe.
Potato Salad with herbs & dried tomatoes

2½ lbs. potatoes
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup diced cooked chicken and/or bacon (optional)
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream (or French crème fraîche)
½ cup plain yogurt
2 or 3 Tbsp. milk (optional)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (optional)
1½ cup chopped herbs (basil, mint, etc., or a combination)
Salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them until tender, about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Drain and cool the potatoes, and then peel and cut into chunks.

Chop the sun- or oven-dried tomatoes and optional chicken or bacon. Toss these ingredients with the cooked, diced potatoes in a big bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, mustard (optional), and salt and pepper until combined well. If the sauce is too thick, add a few spoonfuls of milk to thin it. (If you make your own mayonnaise, you don't need the extra mustard. This is what is called a ranch dressing, but without the sugar you get in store-bought versions.)

Stir the chopped herbs into the dressing. Spoon over potatoes and toss lightly to coat.

Chill for an hour in the refrigerator before serving.


  1. I wish I had this potato salad for lunch! I'll just have to look at those appetizing pictures again and again. Maybe it will do the trick!

  2. Happy Bastille day!
    That potato salad really looks delicious! But I think everything you make is delicious.

  3. It certainly looks like my kind of salad - delicious!

    Has the potato experiment been worthwhile - in other words, would you grow your own again?

  4. My goodness, thanks for the potato update! The salad (and dressing) look delicious.

  5. Happy Bastille Day, as Nadege said :)))

    WOW, that potato salad looks wonderful!


  6. Just discovered your blog. It looks fascinating. I can't really live in France, but this certainly gives a sense of some of it.

  7. Jean, Walt says those rocket potatoes are positively creamy when they are cooked. He's right. Yes, we will probably grow potatoes again, especially if we find we can store them for a few months in autumn and winter.

    Wish you had all been here to taste the potato salad. It's easy to make.

  8. My father and his father always stored potatoes by "clamping" them. This involves storing them in the ground where they were grown, in a mound with some straw for protection against frost.
    There is lots of information about clamping on the internet.

  9. Home made mayonaise = Most underrated condiment in a kitchen!

    So simple to make and yet, unfound fears of Salmonella makes Hellman's a staple ine very fridge in North America.


  10. Thanks, Jean, I'll read more about clamping potatoes.

    H.Peter, yes, it's very easy to make mayonnaise at home. I've been doing it for 35 years (!) and have never had a problem. It doesn't have sugar in it, and you can use the vinegar you like (or lemon juice), good mustard, and good oil too.

    Home-made mayo has a delicate texture that you never get from the stuff you buy at the supermarket. By the way, the best store-bought mayo is Duke's brand, but I'm not sure it's available all over the U.S. or in Canada.

  11. Hello Kristi in the Western Reserve: I'm not sure I know where that might be.

  12. The Western Reserve is northeast Ohio, the part that was reserved for the State of Connecticut after the Revolutionary War. The term is very much in use around here. It's a beautiful place, and I live close to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

  13. No one can deny that the two of you eat quite well.


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