Our family has been exchanging emails about who’s bringing what for Christmas. I love how this day has evolved from the traditional roast meat and veg, to meat with a spread of colourful salads and side dishes spilling over the meat on your plate, pushing the meat a little into the background (well, the way I dish up anyway!). Just quietly, I think the salads and vegetables are the main event. I do love quality ham and roast pork with crackling, but you’ll generally find me hanging out in the trimmings department.
The salads and side dishes are different every year – just what people are loving at the time and want to share. This year I’m going to bring a good green salad with dollops of ricotta, toasted nuts, lots of different herbs and a lemony dressing, just because we’ve got a few remaining cos lettuces from the garden and they are super tender, sweet and good. (Okay, I’m a little proud of them too!) And I’m also going to do this potato salad.
Roast potatoes are the traditional fave but in my opinion this is more interesting, delicious and easier. It means the Christmas host doesn’t have to roast potatoes along with all the other things going on in their oven, and is especially good if the weather is hot. So I’ve bumped roast potatoes off the menu at the in-law’s house. (Now that I think of it, did I commit Christmas sabotage? Was it was wrong to stand between people and their love for the roast spud? But who else can remember their mum being completely stressed out on Christmas day with all the cooking to do? I don’t think anyone really wants to go back there.)
The salad is a long way from potato chunks suspended in a gloop of bought mayonnaise, which is nightmarish if you ask me. I never thought I liked potato salad at all until I started making this one. The cooked potatoes are dressed with oil and lemon juice while they’re still hot, and they soak up the juices as they cool down and become a little creamy as you stir them. Red onion, capers and dill add bite and accent. It’s simple but beautiful, and of course you can make it at any time of year.
Potato, dill and caper salad
Double this recipe to feed a crowd, i.e. if you are making it for a big gathering.
750 g waxy potatoes (i.e. desiree, Dutch cream), washed and cut into 2–3 cm cubes (I leave the skin on)
½ large red onion
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon (or a bit less if very juicy)
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon capers, rinsed
¼ bunch dill, leaves picked and chopped
Boil the potatoes until tender. While boiling, finely slice the red onion and put it into a salad bowl, using your fingers to pull the slices apart into individual slivers.
Drain the potatoes, then add them to the onion. Immediately dress with the oil, lemon juice, salt and some pepper and stir well. Keep stirring the potato and onion every 5 minutes or so as the potato cools down. When cooled to warm, stir in the capers and dill. Taste for salt, adding extra if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.