Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potato, potata.

Keep it simple. © Ryan Schierling
Our old neighbor Damir had a few tricks up his sleeve when it came to simple side dishes. This one isn't a fancy-pantses potato salad – it's red potatoes, red wine vinegar and cilantro. A toss of salt, a good stir, and you've got a deceptively delicious potato... salad? Hard to say, but let's not get all hung up on that.

The first time Damir made this, I was instantly reminded of Mollie Katzen's recipe for "Very-Much Marinated Potatoes," which is a six-ingredient dynamo. If you don't consider boiling water an ingredient, well then, it's still a five ingredient hit.

This is three ingredients. Three. That's not even a recipe. It's barely a grocery list. How can it translate into something you would want to make over and over? Consider "Damir's Broccoli," which is only four ingredients, and is smack-your-forehead good. 

The hot potatoes soak up the tangy red wine vinegar like a spud sponge, and the fresh cilantro sprigs give a crazy crisp-flavored bite that just works so well with the red potatoes and vinegar. I honestly don't get it. Seriously. How can this be that addictive? 

It is about knowing what you want to taste, and breaking it down to the core elements. Whether by Bosnian background or by budget, Damir did this well in whatever stainless steel mixing bowl he had handy. You can add a drizzle of that great extra-virgin olive oil you've got in the back of the cupboard, you can add some minced fresh garlic, you can add a crack or two of black pepper. But, really, it's about making the potatoes happy – red wine vinegar and cilantro do that simply, and they do it beautifully. 

Potato, potata... salad?

10 medium-sized red potatoes, boiled whole until fork tender and sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 good bunch of cilantro (about 43 cilantro leaf-sets, plucked delicately from their stems)
Salt to taste

Stir everything together, add a bit of pepper if you like, or a couple glugs of good olive oil. Make it yours.

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