If it’s past our anniversary, which for 40 years has appeared each Bastille Day, it’s past the middle of July. That’s pretty late in the season to have not yet had one bite of potato salad. Late yesterday afternoon, opening and closing the fridge door like a teenager hoping to find something new since the last time I looked, I couldn’t think of something to have with leftover burgers. (I like leftover burgers nearly better than fresh.) The weather was not helpful: 60 degrees and 60 mph winds with hard rain and hail did away with idea of grilling anything. I knew I needed to use a quickly aging eggplant and of course there were eggs. In the vegetable basket were onions and naturally potatoes. A big bunch of basil drooped unhappily on the counter. I drooped, too. Our youngest had been home for a few days for a family wedding and for our anniversary. She had left that morning.
The best activity for me to engage in was to think up something new to cook. I’d never heard of eggplant in potato salad before, but my happy knowledge was that most things will go together in a salad. It’s an odd fact. My friend Chris once told me about a study group she belonged to for a long series of classes. Each week, every member of the group brought something to throw into a big bowl for a salad. One person brought dressing, I’m remembering. Whatever came together, it came together beautifully and was totally delicious, said Chris. And she’s right. Good and fresh things are always in great hopes of loving one another or maybe it was a case of hunger being the best sauce. At any rate, hence my eggplant-potato salad.
Which, if I grilled or sautéed the eggplant on the stove (I ended up grilling it on my double Lodge grill over two burners), could be done indoors. (Above–I grilled the eggplant coated with a bit of canola oil, salt, and pepper 3-4 minutes on each side over medium flame. I had first salted and drained the pieces on a few layers of paper toweling for 10 minutes.)
While I was at it and since I had nothing else to cook except to heat burgers (ok, I made bacon, too, as it needed to be cooked) I made homemade mayonnaise a la Daniel Boulud. I tweaked it round a time or two by changing the oil and by adding basil and hot sauce. While we contentedly paired our salad with the burgers and a bottle of cheap, I mean inexpensive, Cab, I’m quite sure this would be perfect with a grilled chop — pork or lamb. While there’s no green vegetable, there is the eggplant and all together it would come close to being a one-side meal. Add some grilled asparagus or oven-roasted green beans or maybe some sliced tomatoes should you need more. Try this:
GRILLED EGGPLANT-POTATO SALAD with homemade spicy basil mayonnaise a la daniel boulud
Spices and seasonings are approximate. Potatoes need voluminous amounts of something or other to make them taste. “Taste and adjust seasonings” probably means you’ll need to do this more than once and includes adding more vinegar, lemon juice, or olive oil. I include the basil and white wine vinegar in the salad ingredients list for convenience , but you’ll use part of them to make the mayonnaise. Stir the basil and a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce into Hellman’s if you prefer not to make mayonnaise. I do think you’ll be happier, though, with homemade.
- 1 cup Spicy Basil Mayonnaise a la Daniel Boulud (See below-you might make this first or while you cook potatoes.)
- 4 hard-cooked (boiled) eggs — 3 minced and 1 sliced for garnish
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups grilled or sautéed eggplant in cut into 1 – 2-inch pieces*
- Olive oil
- Crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground white pepper (use black if you don’t have white)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 – 2 1/2 pounds cooked red potatoes, cooled, and cut into 1 – 2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons each minced onion and sweet red bell pepper
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1/2 cup chiffonade (finely chopped strips) of basil, divided, plus a sprig for garnish (2 tablespoons are used to make the mayonnaise and the rest are in the salad)
- 2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (1 tablespoon for mayonnaise, rest for seasoning salad)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. Make mayonnaise first or while potatoes/eggplant cook: If you have a food processor, fit it with the steel blade, add a 2-minute poached egg, and blend briefly. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon-style or hot mustard, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and blend again. Through feed tube, slowly drizzle in — with machine running — a mixture of 3/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Pulsing just 3 or 4 times, add the 2 tablespoons fresh basil, along with a good pinch each salt and finely ground white pepper along with a few drop of hot sauce or ground cayenne. Taste/adjust seasonings, and set aside. (No food processor? Follow THIS process to make mayonnaise with a whisk. Here are Chef Boulud’s original instructions via Food Network.)
2. In a large bowl, toss cooked eggplant with a tablespoon of olive oil, and a generous pinch each of salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper, and the dried basil. Add the cooked potatoes, minced eggs, onions, bell pepper, celery, and 6 tablespoons of the chiffonade of basil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground white– or black — pepper along with a second pinch of crushed red pepper. Stir gently and season with 1 tablespoon of the white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and the basil mayonnaise. Stir again gently until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar or lemon juice if needed. If by chance your salad is too dry, drizzle in a tablespoon or so of olive oil; stir and taste again. Serve at room temperature or chilled garnished with sliced eggs and a sprig of basil. (I like room temperature.) Store up to three days tightly covered in the fridge.
*I used about a 2-pound peeled globe eggplant for this. Any eggplant you have will do. If you don’t care for eggplant, you could easily use grilled zucchini, summer (yellow) squash, or another favorite vegetable.
© 2014 More Time at the Table. All rights reserved.
If you liked this, you might like my Homemade Potato Chip-Steak Salad (below). Click HERE for recipe.
|Just add fork|
Or maybe you’d like my Caprese Burgers with Sweet Corn-Potato Salad (below). Click HERE for recipe.
Sing a new song; make a new salad,