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warm potato salad + pumpernickel croutons


Let me just elaborate on the title of this post a bit: a warm yukon gold potato salad with creamy dijon and leek dressing, crunchy pumpernickel croutons and vibrant little flecks of herbs. Starch on starch. Big time carb scene. It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm, cuddly blanket and getting all happy-sleepy. Also, no mayonnaise or freaky vegan mayonnaise substitutes either. Just a lovely, blended dressing of cooked leeks, mustard, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice.  It’s super creamy, a bit tangy and punchy with dijon; perfect for this sort of thing.

I was never crazy about potato salad. There’s obvious health woes involved, but the overall, squishy, non-varying texture didn’t work for me most of all. That’s where these delicious and hearty croutons come in. They make it unique and fun. You get a bite of creamy potato all slicked with that amazing dressing, some fresh, peppery herb and a crisp crouton to finish it up. All in one bite! Also, the decision to add croutons stems from my love of their presence on um… everything.

Suffice to say, this is cold weather food. It’s deeply satisfying and satiating. It was perfect for the rainy, windy and cold weekend we had here. Definitely putting forward that whole food-as-love thing. It’s the starchy side dish that hugs you back. Also a bonus: everything can be obtained locally (at least around my neck of the woods) and inexpensively for sure. Oh and if you grow herbs, your parsley and chives should be flourishing in the slightly cool weather right about now. Go get ‘em!

warm potato salad with creamy dijon dressing & pumpernickel croutons
serves: 4-5
notes: I only restrained myself with the croutons for photo appeal. The recipe makes way more and you should definitely fully enjoy them all.

3/4lb small potatoes (I used yukon gold)
3 cups cubed pumpernickel bread (or any old bread you like)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 leeks, cut in half, cleaned and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1.5 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid from potatoes/leeks
salt and pepper
3-4 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves finely sliced
10-12 blades of chives, chopped as small as you can manage (or green onions)

Make the croutons: heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss croutons with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in one layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the oven. Stir croutons up periodically for even browning. They take about 15 minutes.

Start the potatoes: place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water and a fat pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and keep at a lively simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Bring the water back to a boil and place the leeks in. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a blender.

Make the dressing: to the cooked leeks, add dijon, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of potato/leek cooking water, remaining oil, salt and pepper. Blend until thoroughly pureed, being careful with the whole warm liquid blending thing. Pour into a small saucepan and keep on low while you cut the potatoes.

Cut potatoes into little wedges or dices (they should still be warm). Place in serving dish and drizzle warm dressing on top. Place croutons and chopped herbs on top and serve.

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Ali03/10/2011 - 2:51 pm

Perfect for a family dinner. The potatoes look so good, lovely photo… so appealing.

Kelsey (Happyolks)03/10/2011 - 6:38 pm

This DOES sound like a warm, cuddly hug. I love that it’s sans dairy :)

Richa@HobbyandMore05/10/2011 - 2:19 pm

such perfect combination of potatoes, spices and pumpernickel.. lovely salad!

Erica06/10/2011 - 10:28 am

I love your seasonal approach to cooking. Isn’t it funny how the produce in season at any given time seems to match exactly what you’d want to eat at that time of year? I also really like how you matched starchy foods with different textures (soft potatoes, crunchy pumpernickel) to make your starchy dish that “hugs you back.” Lovely!

[…] Warm Potato Salad with Creamy Dijon Dressing & Pumpernickel Croutons from The First Mess, and now you have a meal that will be conversation fodder for […]

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