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How-To

Roasted Potato Salads

For great flavor, roast first and then toss with fresh summer vegetables

Fine Cooking Issue 80
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Every so often we all need to shake things up a little, right? A vacation to break our work routine, a sweeping spring cleaning to get rid of all that accumulated junk, or just a nice evening at a fancy restaurant without the kids. I like to think that the same is true in the kitchen—whether that means trying a new dish or giving a new spin to a tired old one. It’s this kind of spirit that inspired these potato salads, which have an unexpected twist. Because I roast the potatoes instead of boiling them, they have a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture that boiled potatoes can only dream of. I mix them with vibrant summer vegetables in a big bowl and toss everything with an olive-oil-based dressing (no mayo here). The result: colorful salads bursting with pure, bright summer flavor.

These roasted potatoes couldn’t be easier. I spread potato chunks on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roll them around the pan until they’re well coated. Even without any stirring during cooking, they brown on the side that touches the pan and get a nice exterior crunch, while remaining soft and tender at heart. As the potatoes roast, I prepare the other ingredients and the dressing. I like to toss the salad while the potatoes are still a bit warm, because they absorb the dressing better.

Red-skinned or Yukon Gold potatoes are my favorites for salad. When roasted, they maintain a creamy texture beneath a slightly browned, crisp surface. I prefer small potatoes (called new potatoes) of 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, as I think they have the best texture and flavor. If they’re not available, I use larger Yukon Golds and cut them into smaller chunks.

To finish the salads use the freshest possible ingredients and treat them simply. That’s my philosophy with just about anything in the kitchen. A big part of what makes these salads so irresistibly tasty is that the potatoes are paired with vegetables at the peak of their season, adding color and crunch (most are raw or only lightly cooked), as well as tons of flavor. I avoid heavy dressings because I like to let the ingredients shine. Olive oil with just a squeeze of lemon or a dash of vinegar will do the trick most of the time. Salsaverde- style herb sauces are also a great way to dress roasted potato salads.

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