Bright spot: Memorial day picnic

Oh my my my. The weeks, they continue to be grim! And gruesome! So let us focus instead on the one bright spot that appeared in the middle of the maelstrom–Memorial Day was our anniversary. Bench and I have been together for two years.


The weather seemed appropriately pleased with our milestone, and behaved perfectly for our celebratory picnic in the park. The cornerstone of this feast (in my opinion) was the lovely potato salad we cobbled together using tiny heirloom potatoes I’d picked up at the farmer’s market.

I have a complicated relationship with potato salad; while I will fully cop to loving the mayonnaise-y version widely available at a deli counter near you, my concern for my ass and my fear of salmonella poisoning will always preclude me from actually making such a concoction. And, when I take it to the other end of the spectrum, with a dish like my grandmother’s German potato salad, I almost always make it too vinegary for anyone else to eat. So my challenge with this picnic staple is finding the happy medium. Which turned out to be, in this case, a lovely mustardy vinaigrette with chives from my kitchen garden.


I briefly considered roasting the potatoes for this salad (and I am fairly certain that there is a cold roast potato salad coming your way, but not today), but ultimately decided that I needed a more simply cooked potato to really showcase the dressing. And so, I steamed the potatoes in my handy dandy sieve, stopping them just short of completely cooked in order to allow them to really mingle with the dressing. After pouring on the sauce, I left it all hanging out on the counter until we went to bed, at which point I whacked the bowl in the fridge. The extended cooling period allowed the potatoes to finish cooking at a leisurely pace while the dressing really adhered itself to the wonderful, waxy tubers.

A caveat: as with so many of my recipes, this particular dressing came about by just kind of throwing whatever I had on hand into the bowl–I heartily encourage you to do the same. In the words of Opus Croakus (of Billy and the Boingers fame), JUST WING THAT MOTHER. Follow your taste, and just muck with it until it works for you. Substitute liberally.

No-mayo potato salad

1/2 c dijon mustard
1/3 c olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp chives, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely finely chopped
3-4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
coarse salt to taste (the texture is important–the coarseness adds a nice crunch)

2-3 lbs small waxy potatoes, cut into 1/2″ rounds

  1. Steam the potatoes over a pot of simmering water for 10 minutes or so; not owning a steamer basket, I use my sieve for this.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together everything that isn’t a potato in the above list.
  3. Toss them both together, ideally at least a day in advance.
  4. Take it to the park! Wear sunscreen!

Monday in the park with Bench

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