Eastern Mediterranean Potato Salad

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Eastern Mediterranean Potato Salad

Cut any large potatoes in half to speed up the cooking. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover them with water by about 1/2 inch and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until a knife can pierce the center of the largest potato easily and the potato falls from the knife when lifted, about 25 minutes.


Meanwhile prepare the dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with a pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk again.


Drain the potatoes in a colander, rinse them briefly and leave just until cool enough to handle. Peel them if you like, and cut them in 1-inch dice.


Place them in a large bowl and add the onion, 3 tablespoons of dressing and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, fold together gently but thoroughly. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature.


Dice the tomatoes (to add them to the salad), or cut them in thick wedges to use as garnish. Whisk the remaining dressing, pour it over the potatoes and fold it in. Add the parsley, capers, half the olives and the diced tomatoes to the potatoes and fold together lightly. Taste, adjust seasoning, and add more lemon juice and olive oil if needed. Garnish with the remaining olives and with the tomatoes, if you’ve cut them in wedges. Serve at room temperature.

Most herbs match well with potatoes. Try tarragon, chives, cilantro or basil. Vary the dressing with garlic oil or herb-scented oil instead of plain oil and with tarragon or balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. Use the proportions of oil and lemon juice/vinegar to your taste. Many people in the Middle East go for equal amounts, while Provencal chefs often opt for three times as much oil as vinegar. If your family insists on mayonnaise, marinate the potatoes in a simple French fashion with dry white wine, salt and pepper. Toss the cooled potatoes with the parsley, olives, capers and 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise, either regular or low-fat.

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