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Peppery Potato Salad


Lynda Balslev

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Early fall yields a rainbow of pepper fruit at the farmers market — sweet bells, cherries, Hungarians, Fresnos, Jimmy Nardellos, poblanos. It’s impossible not to scoop up a bag’s worth of these beauties simply for their colors and shapes. The trick is to find all sorts of ways to put them to use. Here is one — this peppery potato salad.

A confetti of assorted peppers and a generous amount of herbs add sweet heat and freshness to this colorful autumn salad. It’s a no-mayo potato salad, letting olive oil and vinegar stand in as a light and bright dressing, while shining the spotlight on the flavor of the potatoes and peppers. Feel free to mix and match the herbs to your taste — I used parsley and mint, but dill, cilantro and chives are also great.

White balsamic vinegar is my favorite vinegar to use in a potato salad. Unlike dark balsamic vinegar, where grape juice is reduced and then aged for at least 12 years to achieve a rich, caramelized flavor and syrupy consistency, white balsamic is made by cooking white Trebbiano grape juice at high pressure and low temperature, and then aged for no longer than a year. The result is a distinctively lighter, fruitier and golden version of vinegar, which lends itself well to dressings, fruit and salads.

Peppery Potato Salad

Note: If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, do not substitute traditional balsamic, which will overwhelm the salad. Instead, use a high-quality white wine vinegar and add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the salad.

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 6 servings

■ 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

■ 3 teaspoons sea salt, divided use, plus more to taste

■ ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

■ 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

■ 2 garlic cloves, minced

■ 2 teaspoons dried mustard, such as Colmans

■ 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

■ ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, optional

■ 1 poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped

■ 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped

■ 1 to 2 Jimmy Nardello or sweet Italian red peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped

■ 4 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

■ ½ small red onion, finely chopped

■ 1 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as Italian parsley, mint, dill, cilantro or chives

Quarter the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool 5 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper and chili flakes. Stir to combine, breaking up any large chunks of potatoes, and let stand at room temperature until lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Add the ¼ cup olive oil and the remaining ingredients. Stir to thoroughly combine, and taste for seasoning. You may want to add a little more salt or a pinch of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the peppers.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Lynda Balslev is the co-author of “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at tastefood@tastefoodblog.com. Visit the TasteFood blog at tastefoodblog.com.