French Potato and Asparagus Salad

In elementary school, we played a lot of “introduction” games in the first few weeks of school. Most of the time, they involved decorating a card with your name and drawing hobbies or favorite items in the four corners. Invariably, one of the pictures had to involve a favorite food. Up until age eleven, my favorite food was the potato—what a conversation starter, I know. However, I gave up all hope of becoming an artist way back in kindergarten, so I always decided to just write “potato” in the corner of my card. I always wondered why no one really talked to me all that much about my name card.

As a more or less finicky eater during elementary school, I think it’s pretty clear why my potato was my favorite food: it has a mild flavor and pleasing texture yet can be prepared in myriad ways. I loved potatoes in soups, baked, fried, mashed, sautéed, boiled, or roasted. Yet the one potato dish I refused to try was potato salad. I was always disappointed that a dish could combine my favorite food, potatoes, with my least favorite food, mayonnaise.

Then, a few years ago, I discovered French potato salad. Rather than thick chunks of russets mixed with mayonnaise, slender fingerling potatoes are sliced, boiled until just barely tender, and tossed with a shallot and Dijon vinaigrette. Although not a traditional variation, I always add fresh asparagus for a bright green contrast to the otherwise starch-laden dish. There’s room for recipe this in your recipe box even if you are a mayonnaise lover; the French version is elegant, simple, and the perfect side dish, whether it’s served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

French Potato and Asparagus Salad

Serves 8 as a side dish

Table salt

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch slices

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch lengths

1 medium shallot, finely minced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender yet maintain a slight bite to them. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the potatoes into a large bowl and set aside. Do not discard the cooking water. To the simmering water, add the asparagus and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until bright green. Using the spider again, transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the potatoes.
  2. While the potatoes and asparagus cook, combine the shallot, lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, pepper, and ½ teaspoon table salt in a small bowl. Pour this dressing over the cooked vegetables and toss very gently to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings as desired, then serve.

Note: If you do not have access to fingerling potatoes, you can use any variety of new potatoes: red bliss, small Dutch yellow potatoes, Yukon gold creamers, Russian bananas, etc. The only potatoes that I would not recommend are starchy potatoes such as russets and Idaho baking potatoes. You can serve the salad warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!


One thought on “French Potato and Asparagus Salad

  1. Pingback: Do you work with your whole heart and you will succeed- there is so little competition- Elbert Hubbard | monish chandan

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