French Potato Salad

  • Servings : 4-6
  • Prep Time : 5m
  • Cook Time : 20m
  • Ready In : 35m

I’m not sure this counts as a “French” potato salad in any kind of classic sense – it evolved out of my quick-and-dirty adaptation of the way Julia Child tells you to make the potatoes for salade Niçoise in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, with the addition of some Spanish and just generally summery spices. Despite its suspect origins, though, it’s really easy and really good, it’s a great make-ahead dish, and it’s definitely one of my go-tos, especially in the summer.

The trick here is to toss the hot potatoes with the shallot (or onion) and parsley – the heat from the potatoes tempers the shallot’s bite and opens up the parsley’s flavor – and then add the oil and vinegar while everything’s still steaming so the potatoes absorb the oil and vinegar as they cool. (If you mix cold potatoes and oil, all you get are oily, cold potatoes.) Since I’m usually making this in the summer, pimentón – Spanish smoked paprika – adds a great smokiness that matches up well with things coming off the grill. Still, pimentón is kind of a specialty item (though not impossible to find), and regular paprika is a totally acceptable substitute. (You can also swap in chile powder for the paprika and cilantro for the parsley and take things in a more Mexican direction.) As long as you stick to the basic hot-potatoes-and-oil-and-vinegar thing, though, you can take this in more or less any direction, and come up with whatever “French” potato salad works for you.


  • 1 1/2 pounds small boiling potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 red onion, minced
  • handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) or paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Step 1

Put the quartered potatoes in a decent-sized pot and add cold water to cover, and around 2 teaspoons of salt. Place over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, and boil until the potatoes are tender, around 10-15 minutes.

Step 2

Put the shallot and parsley in a medium bowl. Drain the potatoes, and, while they're still hot, add them to the bowl with the shallot and parsley, and give it all a toss. Add the remaining ingredients, toss well, and let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, until the potatoes have absorbed all the oil and vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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