Make Ahead

Italian-Style Potato Salad with Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil

June 24, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves at least four picnickers
Author Notes

I have fond memories of this potato salad growing up. I grew up in Colorado, and when we would go on picnics in the Rocky Mountains, my mother or my grandmother would make this potato salad and bring it along. This dish was often served at big Italian community dinners in Denver, where there was a large Italian immigrant population. My mother would also serve this (still does, in fact) as a side for burgers, steak or grilled chicken. The beauty of this potato salad is that it can be served warm (which is how my father likes it best), at room temperature or even straight from the fridge, cold.

I have tinkered a little bit with my grandmother's original recipe. I have subbed in fresh parsley for dried, used fingerling potatoes instead of russets, and I have added a splash of citrus at the end because I like the freshness and brightness that it adds to the dish. —cookinginvictoria

What You'll Need
  • 2 large eggs, preferably free-range
  • Table salt
  • 1 pound tiny fingerling potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled (approximately .45 grams)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (or other herbs such as mint and basil would work nicely)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or one small dried red chile). Add more if you like food with spice!
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,or more to taste
  1. First, hard boil your eggs. Put eggs in small saucepan. Add enough cold water so that eggs are thoroughly covered. Add a teaspoon salt to the pan. Turn heat to high. When water starts to boil, turn heat off pan and cover. Leave eggs for 15 minutes, then drain in colander and rinse with cold water until eggs feel cool to the touch. Carefully peel eggs and slice into small dice.
  2. While eggs are cooking, add about 1 quart cold water to medium-size pan and turn heat on burner to medium-high. Wash potatoes. If your fingerlings are tiny, cut in half; if they are larger in size, cut into quarters. Do not peel. When water has reached a lively simmer, add potatoes and 1/2 tablespoon salt to water. Turn heat down slightly so that potatoes stay at a simmer, but aren't at an angry boil. Cook potatoes for about 10-15 minutes. Test a potato with a sharp knife for doneness. You want it thoroughly tender. There is nothing worse than not-quite-cooked potatoes in potato salad! Drain potatoes in colander. Return to sauce pan and cover to keep warm.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, make the garlic and oil dressing. Peel garlic and mince into very tiny dice. Put garlic and olive oil in small heavy skillet. Turn heat on burner to low. Garlic will start to bubble in about 4-5 minutes. Give an occasional stir once in a while. You may be tempted to turn heat up, so that garlic will cook faster. Resist this impulse -- garlic burns very easily and it only takes a second or two! About two minute after garlic starts to bubble, add crushed red pepper flakes. Give the ingredients in the pan a good stir, so that the red pepper flakes get coated with the oil. Continue to cook for another five minutes or so. Take garlic off heat when it starts to look translucent and it is giving off a lovely, heady aroma. You want it to stop cooking just before it turns brown. The best way to tell if it is done is to taste it. It should taste sweet and garlicky (not at all raw) and should be a little crunchy.
  4. Finally, it is salad assembly time! Put potatoes (hopefully, they are still warm) in serving bowl or picnic container. Add diced egg and parsley. Pour garlic and oil mixture over eggs and potatoes, making sure to get every last drop of the garlic oil and all of the little bits of garlic. It may look like too much dressing at first, but don't worry -- the potatoes will absorb it all. Add lemon juice. Using a large spoon, mix ingredients carefully, so that the potatoes and eggs don't break apart but get a nice coating of the garlic and oil. Find a fork and sample the salad. It may need a bit more salt or possibly more lemon juice. I usually don't add black pepper to this salad because of the zippiness the red pepper flakes provide.
  5. Serve immediately while the potato salad is still warm. Or pack in a picnic basket to eat at room temperature al fresco. Or stick in the fridge or in a cooler, filled with ice packs, to enjoy cold. Savor every bite!

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In 2009, after living more than twenty years in NYC, my husband, young daughter and I packed up our lives and embarked on a grand adventure, moving to Victoria, B.C. There are many things that we miss about New York (among them ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh ravioli and New York bagels), but, I have to admit, that living in the Pacific Northwest has been pretty amazing food-wise. Now we have a yard with plum and apple trees, a raspberry and strawberry patch and a Concord grape arbor. I have a vegetable and herb garden, so I can grow at least some of our food. And we have an amazing farmer's market a block from our house. I love cooking (and eating) seasonally and locally. And it's been very rewarding introducing my daughter to cooking and eating, and teaching her where our food comes from.

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