I’ve never been to France. And I really can’t complain about it. I’ve been plenty of places that are amazing and have opened my eyes and taken my breath away. I’ve visited the Taj Mahal and the small town in Germany that my Grandma was from. I’ve seen flamenco dancing in Spain with some of my dearest friends and had breakfast looking out over Big Sur with yet another dear friend. I’ve been all over Mexico and have visited family in Minnesota. I spent time studying in Ireland and I’ve spent time partying during an ill-fated, but memorable, college spring break in Florida. As far as travel goes, I consider myself blessed to have seen so much of the world before I hit 30. Truly, I’m beyond lucky.
But that doesn’t change that I’ve never been to France. For someone who loves to eat and cook as much as I do, it seems like a dream. All this to say, that I have no idea if this would pass the sniff-test in France. It’s kind of a riff on a Salad Niçoise, borrowing all it’s flavors and freshness. It’s classic, flavorful and perfectly balanced, and all of these things strike me as typically French. The potatoes are cooked along with thyme and bay, which seemed a bit silly at the time, but resulted in the most lovely hint of herbal bitterness when you bite into each potato. Blanched green beans offer a bit of crunch and lighten up the whole endeavor- potato salad can get a bit stodgy, can’t it? But the vinaigrette on this salad is what knocks it out of the park. Bold, punchy, and reeking of garlic, the dressing holds up to the potatoes and beans like a champ. I found myself dipping a few extra beans into the dressing as I worked. I just. couldn’t. stop. And a word about the eggs- at first, I hesitated to even add them, because it seemed like it would be gilding the lily. But boy, I’m glad I did. They complete the dish and add a major textural appeal, and are just freakin’ delicious themselves when tossed with that tangy vinaigrette. A sprinkling of fresh herbs just makes this all the more magical.
Now if only I could teleport myself to a blanket in front of the Eiffel tower and eat this as part of a picnic lunch, I’d be a happy camper. Heck, forget it, I’m a pretty happy camper eating this in the shadow of the Lego tower my kids just made. French or not, this is one of my new favorites. Bon Appetít!
adapted from the NY Times
- 2 pounds medium potatoes, like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large thyme sprig
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound hardboiled eggs
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, bay leaf and thyme branch. Cook at a brisk simmer until the potatoes are firm but easily pierced with a skewer, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, capers, mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk again before using if the dressing separates.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into quarters (or halves if they are small).
Simmer the beans in salted water until firm-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes, then cool under running water and pat dry.
In a large bowl, toss potatoes and green beans with the dressing, taking care not to break up the potatoes too much. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer salad into a serving bowl, and sprinkle the chopped herbs on top, and arrange sliced eggs on top.