Monday, July 24, 2006

Am I Blue? You Bet!

Yesterday I mentioned that I bought some blue potatoes at the Farmer's Market. I've been wanting to try them for a while and had a hankering for some potato salad so this seemed like the right time to get me some.

See how shiny and blue they are? They aren't quite as purple as they look here. They do have a little purple in them, but they were distinctly different from the purple potatoes this vendor also had on hand.

These potatoes were on the large size for fingerlings. Since I knew I was making potato salad with them, I purposely chose large ones, and tried to keep the shapes consistent so they would cook evenly.

After scrubbing the potatoes, I put them in a three-quart saucepan full of cold water, brought it up to a boil, then lowered the heat and cooked the potatoes for about 20 minutes. It was almost too long--they were really tender when I tested them.

As you can see, they kept their blue color after they were cooked. They sliced up nicely, although they were a little more starchy than I expected. I expected them to be waxy like reds, but they're closer to russets, which makes them less ideal for potato salad. But they held their shape.

As far as potato salad goes, I have a kick-ass traditional version that I've been making for years. It's one of those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink versions with hard-boiled eggs, celery, onion, dill pickles, green olives, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, salt and coarsely ground pepper. And let me tell you, it's pretty fabulous.

But a few years ago I made aioli from a recipe in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and it practically made me swoon with it's garlicky goodness. (It's really easy--you just take a cup of mayonnaise, add 4-6 cloves crushed garlic, and salt and lemon juice to taste. Mmmmmmm.)

That same week I had been invited to a barbecue and was trying to decide what I could bring along. I had some new potatoes, but no russet which were my usual potatoes for my kitchen-sink potato salad. I also had some fresh dill on hand for some reason, which was not so usual for me in those days. But I got to thinking and decided to keep it simple, so I threw together a simple salad with the potatoes, the dill, some salt and pepper, and lots of the aioli. I believe I did use hard-boiled eggs that time, but I've since cut those out as well.

This is the little black dress of potato salads--simple, suave and sophisticated. The addition of chives was the perfect touch.
Aioli Dill Potato Salad

24-oz. new potatoes
1/2 cup aioli, or more if desired
A handful of fresh chives, chopped (to taste)
A handful of fresh dill sprigs (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub potatoes and place in cold water in 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; lower heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, until tender enough to insert fork with no resistance. Be careful not to overcook.

Drain potatoes and let cool. Slice approximately 1/4" thick and place in large bowl. Add herbs, salt and pepper. Add aioli a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Let it come to room temperature before serving (but don't let it sit out too long).

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