Recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Chives, Tarragon, and Parsley
Planting flowers and herbs in pots out on the sidewalk in New York City is asking for trouble, but what can I do? I have a big urge to plant, and this is the space Mother Nature has lent me. During warm months I wake up many a morning in fear that my beautiful herbs and geraniums will have been ripped out and flung onto the street, or pulled out and stolen. It happens at least once a year. I have a hard time figuring out the mentality of someone who steals fennel or marjoram. It doesn’t fit any criminal profile I know. The vandalism is usually done in the early morning, around two or three. I live on the ground floor, so once or twice I’ve heard people banging around out there. I assume they are drunk or drugged stragglers, whose lives are just not complete without collecting a pilfered parsley plant, trotting down the street with it, and then dumping it in a garbage can at the end of the block. I guess owning it for those fleeting minutes makes the person vital. People tell me to just let it go, but it’s hard. I’d really like to run after these idiots, but idiots who are drunk or drugged can be scary. Best to stay inside and let the destruction unfold.
So far so good this year. My stoop pots are thriving, my windowsills are covered with red flowers. I did briefly have trouble with my tarragon, but after chats with friends and farmers I realize I was drowning it. It was rotting at the base. I cut it way back, adding the limp leaves to a small bottle of champagne vinegar (which I used in this salad) and letting the plant dry out. Now it’s coming back, shooting up all new sprigs. I’m so happy. I can’t stand killing things.
To celebrate my happy herb pots, I made a potato salad with all the herbs I have growing high and wild right now. Chives, parsley, and a little tarragon, the fines herbes of the French kitchen minus the chervil. (I can never grow chervil. It shrivels up into dry, frilly crisps in no time. I don’t know what I do wrong with it. Help would be greatly appreciated.) The secret to gaining intensity with this salad is tossing the warm potatoes with a little vinegar and wine and letting the liquid sit and soak in for a few minutes before adding anything else. That will give you a deeper than skin-deep taste. It’s not really much of a secret; French cooks have been doing it for decades.
These potatoes, a plate of prosciutto, a bowl of watercress, and a few glasses of springtime rosé make a wonderful meal.
I love my herb pots.
Warm Potato Salad with Chives, Tarragon, and Parsley
1 bag baby Yukon Gold potatoes (1½ pounds or so), cut in half
1 teaspoon tarragon vinegar, or maybe a little more
1 tablespoon dry white or rosé wine
A big pinch of ground allspice
Chives, tarragon, and parsley, all lightly chopped (you’ll want about a half cup, total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground Black pepper
Put the potatoes in a pot, and cover them with warm water by about 3 inches. Add some salt, and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down a bit, and cook at a lively bubbly until the potatoes are just tender but the skins haven’t started to detach, about 10 minutes, checking their tenderness once or twice during cooking. Drain well.
Place the potatoes in a big bowl. Drizzle with tarragon vinegar and wine. Sprinkle on the allspice, and give them a toss with your fingers. Let them sit for a few minutes, and then give them another toss. They should have soaked up most of the liquid.
Now add all the chopped herbs, a bit more salt, and big drizzle of really good olive oil. Add black pepper, and toss. Check for seasoning. You might need a few more drops of vinegar. Serve warm.