Comfort Food For A Rainy Day – Simple Potato Salad

Some days simply call for comfort food.

Potato salad with bacon, marinated red onion and olive oil

This morning dawned already damp and proceeded to rain, and rained all through lunch, at which point the weather improved all the way up to damp and grey sans the pouring rain.  To add insult to injury, it is Monday and one of my best friends has just gone back to England after a weekend visit here.  Gloomy.  The fridge is having post-party blues:  it is filled with fancy sauce, plastic boxes of leftover cake, a piece of brie and half a bunch of good grapes – i.e., nothing to eat.  Even gloomier.

Luckily, I found half a bag of baby new potatoes left over from making soup for the party Saturday, and a more thorough search of the fridge has turned up a pack of bacon and a red onion.  Bingo!  It’s all I really need for a very good, very very comforting and easy to make (this isn’t the sort of day when I want to do a kitchen marathon or any other Olympics, either) potato salad.

For the adherents of the mayonnaise-smothered gloopy cold stuff that passes for potato salads in many supermarkets and among many caterers, I am sorry but I am of a different persuasion (as if the photo hasn’t told you that).  I believe in the tangy and slightly al dente potato salad with a bite and a lot of flavor, and it has got to be warm.  Or even hot if I hurry up with eating it or bother to preheat the plate.

Ok, so all you really need  to feed one hungry person on a gloomy day is:

  • Enough potatoes for said person to not be hungry (hey, that really varies from person to person!)
  • 1/2 pack (about 75g) bacon rashers or half a box of lardons (cubed bacon).  I prefer rashers for this because cut up into short strips crosswise, they fry to a lovely crispness
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion
  • A splash of white or red-wine or balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic, it’s what I had on hand)
  • Sea salt
  • Chili flakes and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (2-3 tablespoons won’t hurt in my opinion)

What do you do?

  • Wash your potatoes (I don’t bother peeling), cut up if they are large or just use whole if they are little, and stick them into a pot of cold, salted water to boil.
  • While the potatoes boil, preheat a non-stick frying pan with a teaspoon or two of oil to medium-high heat (I use setting 6 out of 9), and toss the cut-up rashers or bacon cubes into it.  Allow to fry slowly, so that the fat melts (I drain that off and keep in a ceramic jar in the fridge for future use when roasting vegetables).
  • While the bacon is frying and potatoes are boiling (you can cover them with a lid and reduce heat somewhat once they come to a boil), peel and cut your onion.  Stash half in the fridge in a plastic bag and slice the other one thinly into half-moons or quarter-moons (as you like).
  • Put the onion in a bowl, splash with vinegar (enough to wet all of it), and sprinkle with salt.  Now test your potatoes – they should be getting close to ready.  I take them off heat as soon as they are no longer crunchy and pierce easily with a fork.
  • Drain your potatoes and put them into the bowl with onions, season with chili flakes, and use a fork to fork them into smaller, bite-sized pieces.  Let stand until bacon is ready.  Note: if bacon is ready before the potatoes, take it off the heat but don’t add to the bowl until potatoes are ready.
  • Mix the potatoes and onions again.  Splash the salad with olive oil and then mix in the bacon (this allows it to stay crispier), taste and season with salt and pepper as much as you like.  Pour salad onto a plate or eat right out of the bowl if you like.

I plated mine.  And photographed it and ate it – and now the sky is clearing up and the day does not look nearly so gloomy anymore.  In fact, it looks much, much better!

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