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Monday, July 25, 2011

Potato Salad with Double Mustard Dressing

The great thing about this potato salad is that you can transport it to a picnic or potluck without worrying that it will spoil and cause food poisoning - always a concern with unrefrigerated, mayonnaise-based potato salads. I’ve loosely based this salad on a recipe by New York food writer and TV personality Mark Bittman, whose How to Cook Everything book remains a bestseller some 13 years after its release. 
Mark’s cooking instructions for the potatoes suggest bringing a pot of salted water to a boil, cubing the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and cooking them 15 min. until tender but still firm. I must live in a different universe from his! If I did that, the potatoes would slip their jackets and turn to mush. I greatly prefer steaming waxy-skinned potatoes to boiling them; steaming locks in the nutrients and produces a firmer product. 
Mark’s recipe swims in what I consider far too much dressing, so I’ve doubled the quantity of potatoes. I halve or quarter them, rather than cubing them. Because I don’t want the potatoes to break apart or lose their lovely red skins, I combine the ingredients with two flat spatulas and a delicate touch. Although Mark’s recipe uses olive oil, I’ve used canola. I’ve made this recipe with olive oil, too; truthfully, it doesn’t seem to make the slightest difference to the taste.  
You can steam your potatoes in a pot, but if you don’t already own a steamer, I highly recommend that you buy one! You can steam multiple veggies at a time; some steamers even do rice. The photo shows just one tray of my two-tray steamer; an electric steamer is one of my must-have small appliances!
Potato Salad with Double Mustard Dressing:
3 lb. (about 12) average-sized red-skinned potatoes, jackets on
¼ c. Dijon mustard
¼ c. grainy mustard
½ c. canola oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
⅓ c. snipped fresh basil
Pour about 2 c. cold water into bottom of steamer. Add potatoes to steamer tray and set for 20 - 25 min. (check after 20 min.). When potatoes are fully cooked but still firm, briefly chill in ice water. Drain well. Whisk together all remaining ingredients except basil. Pour over potatoes, stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle with basil, stirring just until evenly distributed. 
Note: I like to make this salad early in the day, allowing the flavors to blend. Return to room temperature about an hour before serving. Serves 12.

Choose "average"-sized potatoes

Love me, love my steamer! We're inseparable!

Add fresh basil and transfer from pot to serving bowl

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