When summer rolls around, I cook everything on the grill. And so even though I like classic potato salad, the kind made with boiled potatoes and lots of mayonnaise, the potato salads I cook come July feature grilled potatoes. The grill lends charred sweetness and smoky flavor to all kinds of potatoes—whether tiny fingerlings, Yukon Golds, or even sweet potatoes. I think of these smoke-kissed potatoes as the canvas, the base layer for salads that include other ingredients with big, bold flavors. In the grilled salads that follow, you’ll find all kinds of yummy ingredients paired with the potatoes, including pomegranates, pesto, and pine nuts. Grilled salmon, bacon, and blue cheese, too.
For great grilled potato salads, parcook the potatoes.
It may seem like extra work, but parboiling potatoes in well-salted water has a few advantages: It lets you cook them on the grill just long enough to develop nice grill marks without drying out the potatoes, so they’ll be fluffy on the inside like a good french fry, with a golden, slightly charred outside. (Starting with raw potatoes, you risk burning the outside before the inside is done.) As a bonus, the salt in the water seasons the potatoes. I prefer to parcook sweet potatoes in the oven; parboiling can make them mushy.
Incidentally, this method for grilling potatoes works any time you want a tender, nicely charred potato. You could even use them in traditional potato salad, mayonnaise and all.