Tarragon is a natural in summer’s spud salads

It wouldn’t be Fourth of July without potato salad.

And it wouldn’t be my family’s typical holiday without making the side dish from scratch.

There’s no disputing that commercially prepared potato salads, in all their goopy glory, have a following — just not with me nor my kin. I had to suppress a gasp when my mom mentioned that, for the first time in her life, she was tempted to buy ready-made potato salad.

I’ll make the potato salad if you’re too tired, I offered. By way of reply, she sighed.

While Mom and I agree that potato salad worth eating must be homemade, we don’t see eye to eye on what constitutes the perfect recipe. She uses baking potatoes for the mealier texture that she enjoys. I use Yukon golds or other waxier varieties that don’t disintegrate into the dressing. Rather than suffer my preference, she managed to muster the energy to prepare it her way.

We do agree, at least, that pickles in potato salad must be dills, mayonnaise must be Best Foods and fresh herbs are a nice touch, if not essential. Although chives and parsley are my go-to choices for summer, tarragon is a natural with potatoes and may earn my endorsement before the season is over.

The following recipe from the Detroit Free Press does strike something of a balance between my salad with waxy spuds and my mom’s, which incorporates celery. Mayonnaise could be substituted for the sour cream, which would play up the lemon’s tang.

To avoid overcooking potatoes for salad try this method from the Free Press test kitchen and Food Network’s Ina Garten: Slightly undercook the potatoes, and drain them in a colander. Place the colander over a large pot, and cover the colander with a clean kitchen towel. Let them sit for 15 minutes, and the potatoes will steam and continue to cook.

Tribune News Service photo

Tarragon-Lemon Potato Salad

2 pounds new potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) lemon juice

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon or 4 teaspoons fresh (or to taste)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with tip of a knife, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and let cool until you can handle them. When cool, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on size of potatoes.

In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, celery and parsley. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill pickle relish, tarragon, salt and black pepper. Pour dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Makes 6 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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