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A new potato salad is a blank canvas.



New potato salad recipes abound online, as do those for normal potato salad. Some versions are tossed with sour cream-based dressings rather than the typical mayo. Others use a simple vinaigrette. A cilantro chutney makes a fine potato salad sauce as well.

Most potato salad recipes call for boiling or steaming the potatoes. I get it. Cooking them this way helps prepare the cut surfaces to really grip the sauce. Nonetheless, I prefer to oven-roast my potatoes, which adds a browned, caramelized flavor. Admittedly, this treatment cuts down on their adhesiveness to the sauce, but not prohibitively so.

I recently made a new potato salad with a bunch of spuds that were as small as they were new: baby fingerlings from the farmers market. They were so small that I didn't even cut most of the spudlings before roasting them. That, in principle, should have further inhibited their grip on the sauce, but it didn't matter. I tossed my salad in a batch of homemade garlic and dill mayo, and it held together beautifully.

Beyond the choice of dressings, a potato salad is a 3D blank canvas in many other ways as well, into which you can incorporate the fruits and leaves of summer's progression. Fresh peas, snap or shelled, can be tossed in at the very end, as can chopped celery. Parsley, dill, or cilantro can be chopped and added, but you will probably want to choose just one of those dominating herbs. Any protein, from tofu to bacon to shrimp, can be added, along with whatever else summer can throw at you. Green onions (aka new onions) are preferable to chopped bulbs, but either will do. That fennel root sitting in your fridge, which seemed like such a sophisticated purchase at the time but now have no idea what to do with? Your new potato salad will swallow that up, along with more misfit produce than grandma's seven-layer leftover casserole, but with a finished flavor that's fresh and crunchy.

(Counterpoint: My wife disagrees with me completely. She prefers her potato salad to have just potatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, and greenery, such as parsley.)

I roasted the new potatoes along with whole cloves of new garlic and rounds of carrots. I should have peeled the garlic first, but I didn't. I tossed these roots with oil, sprinkled them with salt and garlic powder, and baked at 350 on a tray, stirring occasionally. If you happen to have any garlic scapes, chop and toss them in for the final minutes of cooking.

Be warned: This is a tasty mixture. You should probably roast extra of this rootsy mix for the kitchen vultures, because they will surely be circling. That fennel root could be roasted too, but I prefer to serve it raw and crunchy.

Let this cool before mixing with your uncooked veggies. Then mix together whatever raw veggies you've assembled, toss in the dressing, and serve.

The dressing could be Dijon sauce, or balsamic vinaigrette, or something with crème fraîche, but if you find yourself at a crossroads and aren't sure which way to turn, you can't go wrong with mayo. Admittedly that's kind of my motto in general, but especially so here.

I will leave you, thus, with my recipe for dill mayo:

Crack an egg into a food processor, or better yet a cup into which your submersible hand blender can plunge. Add slices of fresh garlic and the juice of half a lime. Blend until everything is fully liquefied together. Slowly add olive oil, in the thinnest of streams, as the mixture whizzes. After you've added about a ¼ cup, increase the flow of oil until another ¼ cup as been added. Blend another moment, then continue whizzing and pouring until it thickens into mayo and the oil starts to pool on top. Then, add chopped fresh dill, blend again, and stir it into your new potato salad.

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