My fondest childhood memories of summer were swimming long hours down at the beach where my grandparents lived and only leaving the watery playground to eat. You could work up such an appetite swimming, skiing, playing in the water! Potato salads were a favorite my siblings and I always enjoyed. It was usually accompanied by other veggies as well as some form of delicious barbecued meat my Mom had marinated the night before. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, wild potatoes were found 11,000 BC in the south of Chile and that cultivation began around 5,000 BC. The first Europeans encountered the potato in 1537 in Colombia. Back then they were small, watery and bitter.
Potato salad-type recipes were introduced to America by European settlers who adapted traditional foods to local ingredients. The potato salad as we know it today became very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century. Hot potato salad, usually made with bacon, onion, and vinegar dressing, was associated with German immigrants and therefore often called “German potato salad.” Mayonnaise became popular in the 1940’s as the choice of dressing for the potato salad which replaced the French dressing (also known as a vinaigrette). Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. Click here for more information on the health benefits of potatoes.
Tarragon has a slight tart flavor with a spicy anise aroma. French tarragon is the one to use in culinary dishes as others are too bitter to eat. It is excellent with fish, chicken, veal, egg dishes and in chicken or fish soup. Freeze tarragon for future use by chopping the leaves, mix with a little water and put into ice cube trays in the freezer.
adapted from Occasions magazine
3 lb. new potatoes, washed and halved
6 slices smoked bacon
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, blanched and chopped
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. While the potatoes are boiling, cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a plate covered in paper towel to remove any excess grease. Chop the bacon. Place cooked potatoes, bacon, spring onion and asparagus in a bowl.
In separate glass bowl place Sherry vinegar, tarragon, honey and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season potatoes and vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Gently toss the potatoes in the vinaigrette. Let cool.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I love this salad warm or cold and it brings back wonderful food memories for me. For added flavor, I chose to grill the asparagus on the bbq. Enjoy!