I have waxed on (and on) about my love of potato salad; I've shared half a dozen recipes for lighter, fresher potato salads here, many starting with a moment of improvisation with what is in season. Why do I love it potato salad much? Potato salad is quick, it easily feeds a crowd, and it can be the perfect vessel for seasonal vegetables. Take this one, for instance: Tomatoes, tiny mozzarella balls, and heaps of fresh basil.
I had these summer goodies on hand, and some buttermilk too. I was craving its bright, tangy flavor, which is such a good thing against the starchy potatoes. I played up that tanginess with even more lemon, and balanced it with some olive oil and a touch of honey.
This is a quick and easy side dish, full of flavor. I loved how colorful it was, too — all those potatoes tumbled together with red tomatoes and green basil.
It served a big crowd — a pack of family over to lunch. We numbered at least 10 or 11, but this easily fed them all, while leaving me a little container of leftovers to eat for lunch with chicken and a green salad.
Tomato & Mozzarella Potato Salad with Lemon-Buttermilk Dressingserves 8
3 pounds petite red or Yellow Yukon potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey, warmed
8 ounces tiny mozzarella balls
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ounces basil, roughly chopped
Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it generously with at least 1 tablespoon salt. When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are very tender but not yet falling apart. Drain cooked potatoes and return them to the pot.
While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour this dressing over the warm potatoes and toss to coat.
Toss with the mozzarella balls, halved cherry tomatoes, and basil. Season generously with salt and fresh pepper (the salad will need more salt than you expect). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature.
Note: I garnished this salad with a tiny sprig of dill when I served it, but I didn't include any dill in the salad itself. It would be quite good, though, as a substitute or complement to the basil. The more herbs the merrier!
(Images: Faith Durand)