Labor Day weekend is bittersweet, like the end of an affair. Three days of sunshine, of flip-flops, of beaches and barbecue. But Tuesday lurks around the corner, like a raincloud with the smell of ozone to the air. There’s almost a sense of desperation — just one more cookout! — before fall settles in, with its dark evenings, the smell of cinnamon and freshly-sharpened pencils, and its long march to winter.
I’ve been busy collecting summer, whether it’s making just one more fresh fruit pie, canning a batch of tomato jam, downing bottles of rose, or just sneaking outside to enjoy the sunset. I keep getting ideas and checking them off the list: Hollywood Bowl tickets, picnics, Lemonade! And one of my favorite summer foods is potato salad. I wanted to get in one more potato salad before roast potatoes become de rigueur.
Farewell to summer, or should I say, au revoir?
- Thin skinned red potatoes
- red wine vinegar
- mayonnaise (I like Best Foods, Hellman’s or Trader joe’s Real Mayonnaise.)
- juice and zest from lemon
- Boil the potatoes, skin on, in salted water, until tender when pierced with a fork.
- While the potatoes are still warm, but cool enough to handle, thickly slice them and sprinkle the slices with vinegar.
- Spread both cut sides of each potato slice with some mayonnaise — you don’t want it an inch thick, but don’t skimp either. Go by feel, and think “casual abundance.” Arranged the “buttered” sliced potatoes on a plate. Salt to taste.
- Sprinkle the sliced potatoes with chopped chives, and lemon zest. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the potatoes.
I love old fashioned potato salad made by my grandmother, but this isn’t that. I also love newfangled potato salads, but this isn’t that, either. This is potato salad reduced to its essentials — a little mayonnaise, a sprinkle of tart vinegar, the oniony breath of chives, and at the end, a dusting of lemon, to add aroma and color, to wake the tastebuds and make the salad sing. It’s hardly a recipe at all, but it’s well worth making all the same, in this last weekend of summer.