Seasonal Pantry: French twist on summer potato salad

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


When it comes to the Fourth of July, certain foods shout out the holiday more than others: Thick slices of tomatoes topped with chopped garlic and parsley, triangular wedges of cold watermelon, corn on the cob dripping with butter and potato salad. With the tomatoes, watermelon and corn, we’re jumping the gun a bit, as none of these have come into season yet locally.

But potato salad, ahh, potato salad. It is never out of season. The variations are endless or nearly so and as long as you use good ingredients and keep both Miracle Whip and sweet relish out of the mix, they are all pretty good.

Some of the very best potato salads are the simplest, such as one from France that is served warm or at room temperature and contains just potatoes and two vinaigrettes.

The first of the vinaigrettes, when it is applied to the potatoes, illustrates how to make even an ordinary potato salad soar: Add a vinaigrette, or even just olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice, to the potatoes while they are still hot. I learned this when I was a very young cook, 15 or 16, and it has never failed me, though the few times I’ve failed to do it, the results have been disappointing. The warm potatoes absorb the flavors in a way that chilled potatoes don’t and that makes all the difference in the world. A second dressing, sometimes a vinaigrette, sometimes a mayonnaise-based sauce, is typically added shortly before serving.

Over the years, I have offered more than a dozen different potato salads in this column. For those recipes, visit “Eat This Now” at You’ll find the classic vintage dish, Marshall House Potato Salad, along with potato-mussel salad, potato salad with grilled skirt steak and radish vinaigrette, Russian Egg potato salad, Mexican-inspired potato salad, sweet potato salad with molasses vinaigrette and more.

In France, this traditional dish is called pommes a l’huile , or potatoes in oil. You can serve it just as it is or add other ingredients--sliced hard-boiled eggs, quartered cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, blanched green beans--before adding the final dressing.

French-Inspired Potato Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds small new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons best-quality white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons dry white wine

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

2 shallots, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

Fill the bottom half of a steamer about 1/4 full with water and set over high heat.

Add the sliced potatoes to the top part of the steamer and set over the bottom half. When steam begins to rise, cover the pot, and steam until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the steamer and tip them into a wide shallow bowl.

While the potatoes cook, put half a cup of the olive oil into a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, the wine, and season with salt and pepper.

Season the potatoes with a little salt, pour the dressing over it, toss, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Put the remaining olive oil and vinegar into a small bowl, add the shallots, parsley, and chives, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Immediately before serving, pour the second dressing over the salad, toss, and enjoy right away.


For a version using mozzarella fresca instead of burrata, consult the variation that follows the main recipe.

Potato Salad with Italian Salami, Olives, Burrata & Arugula

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds very small new red potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and cooked in salted water until tender, drained

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

— Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard or other mustard of choice

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

cup extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces Italian salami, such as soppressata, thinly sliced

3/4 cup pitted Niçoise olives

2 bunches arugula

8 ounces (1 piece) burrata

Put the potatoes into a wide, shallow bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the mustard. Whisk in the olive oil, toss, and correct the seasoning. Pour half the dressing over the potatoes and toss gently. Add the salami and olives and toss gently.

Spread the arugula over a platter and set the burrata in the center. Mound the salad all around the cheese, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and grind black pepper over everything.

Enjoy right away.

Variation: If you prefer mozzarella fresca instead of burrata, tear 8 ounces of the cheese into small strips just before adding the remainder of the dressing.


If your Fourth of July plans include a luau and that luau happens to be potluck, as most Hawaiian parties are, this salad will fit right in. It might seem overkill when it comes to carbs but it has an indescribable taste of place that evokes swaying palms, the sounds of the sea, and melody of a dozen ukuleles playing nearby. I do not add a vinaigrette to the potatoes in this salad; it would be good but it would lose that taste of place that is so crucial.

Potato-Mac Salad

Makes 10 to 12 servings

— Kosher salt

1 pound elbow macaroni

3 large (about 2 1/2 pounds) potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 white or red onion, cut into small dice

4 celery stalks, cut into small dice

1 cup California black olives, chopped

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into quarters

3 cups Best Foods mayonnaise, plus more as needed

— Black pepper in a mill

Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full with water, add a tablespoon of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir until the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the pasta is tender. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cool water.

Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the diced potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water by two inches, add a tablespoon of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a bamboo skewer; do not over cook. Drain, rinse and spread on a baking sheet to cool thoroughly.

To finish the salad, toss the macaroni and potatoes together in a large salad bowl. Add the onion, celery and olives and toss again. Add the eggs and the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. The salad should be very moist; if it seems dry, add more mayonnaise. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date; email her at

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine