I fear you might be judgmental of the information I am about to disclose. And I am sure there are a lot of reasons why I should think twice before sharing this, including, first and foremost, the fact that Julia Child is probably shaking her head at me so powerfully it could transcend several decades, and all because I have dared to admit the following words: I absolutely hate mayonnaise.
I’m sure it would make all the difference if I tried making my own some time. No, I do not omit it entirely from my Jimmy John’s order (though I admittedly become quite forceful when communicating how little I want). Yes, I will be the first to tell you that aioli can make a good burger great. And I have similarly been known to use mayo to make tuna sandwiches. Does this mean I just lied to you about how much I hate it? Oh, I don’t know. Probably. Maybe there are times when it’s…okay.
Potato Salad, though, is never such an occasion. This is a topic I feel very passionately about; I have never understood why we coat rich, starchy potatoes with a thick, creamy emulsion. In fact, I have almost always turned it down, if given the opportunity. It has been precisely those moments-the ones where I refused potato salad-that the voice of Werner Herzog in his documentary about the solitary lives of trappers in the Taiga resounds in my mind as he describes the men who forge their own way alone in the wilderness as “happy people.” Like those brave souls who face that withdrawal and seclusion for most of the year every year, I will sooner welcome a plate devoid of everything than one supporting mayonnaise-covered potatoes.
Of course, Yukon Golds surrounded by mediterranean flavors-kalamatas, cucumbers, bell pepper, marinated artichokes-and tossed in a tart dressing of freshly cracked black pepper, goat cheese, green onion, and the oil that once marinated those artichokes we just talked about? That, right there, sounds like the kind of potato salad I would like to eat. Especially when served atop a peppery collective of sprightly arugula.
I am so smug at the thought of my own creation that I might just call up my friend Mr. Herzog and suggest we collaborate on a sequel, set to take place in the wilderness of my kitchen. I’ll be alone in my handmade Little Mermaid-inspired apron, humming “I Melt with You” and cooking up some potatoes, and he’ll be pointing out that this is what “happier” looks like. Now we know.
One Year: Chewy Toffee Cookies
Two Years: Black Pepper Pork Chops with Garlic-Shallot Butter
Mediterranean Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese Vinaigrette
Makes 8-10 Servings
Goat Cheese Vinaigrette:
2 heaping tbsp goat cheese
2 green onions, white and light green parts only
1/4 cup oil from marinated artichokes (I use this brand)
juice of one lemon
pinch of cayenne
sea salt and extra cracked black pepper, to taste
4 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, deseeded and diced
1 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (about 5-6) marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
arugula, for serving
Vinaigrette: In a large bowl, add goat cheese, green onions, artichoke oil, lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper, whisking vigorously to combine until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Potato Salad: In a large saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Once cooked fully, drain and allow to cool completely. In a large bowl, combine cooled potatoes, red onion, cucumber, carrots, bell pepper, tomato, olives, and artichokes. Pour goat cheese vinaigrette over the vegetables, stirring to combine. Season with black pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready serve. Flavors taste best after 3-4 hours, or the following day. To serve, dollop atop desired amount of arugula. Salad will keep for up to 3-4 days.