Sunday, August 28, 2011

Balsamic potato salad with grape tomatoes

Often the best salads are those created at the last minute. I often buy produce because it looks good or appeals to me in some fashion. I figure that I'll find was to use it during the week.

That's what I did yesterday when I prepared a potato salad for dinner at my mother's house. My son and I contributed a pot of beans and the potato salad. She had returned after a three-month visit with my sister in Northern Virginia.

I had purchased a bag of red potatoes and a pint of grape tomatoes at the market earlier in the week. The salad was the perfect way to use the tomatoes. As long as I can remember, my mother welcomed tomatoes to the dinner table throughout the summer.

After cooking, cooling and peeling a pot of red potatoes, I whisked together a quick balsamic vinaigrette to dress the salad. A heaping tablespoon of horseradish mustard in the dressing gave the salad its rustic appeal. The pint of grape tomatoes seemed to belong in the salad.

One reason I like this potato salad is because it can be changed on a whim. Trading roasted potato wedges for simmered potatoes gives the salad greater appeal. Almost any vegetable or herb can be used to enhance the salad.

I used horseradish mustard because I had an open jar in the cupboard. While Dijon mustard is traditionally used to flavor most vinaigrette dressings, experiment with flavored mustard.

The horseradish mustard came from a gift pack. Two others remain, maple champagne mustard and blue cheese herb mustard. I'll have to work one of them into the salad somehow.

My mother and sisters enjoyed the potato salad. I left the leftovers at her house for lunch sometime this week.


To prepare the potato salad, cover 1-pound red potatoes (6 to 7 small potatoes) with salted water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; and reduce to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until fork tender. Cool, peel and dice the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a medium bowl.

Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes, onions and parsley for the salad. You'll need 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved; 3 green onions, sliced thin; and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Place the vegetables into the bowl with the potatoes and gently toss.

To prepare the dressing, place a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 minced garlic clove and 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme in a small bowl. With a fork, whisk in 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. While whisking, stream 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil into the vinegar. The dressing should hold together when done.

Pour the dressing over the salad and lightly toss to combine. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving. Serves 5 to 6 portions.

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