Roasting vegetables give them a deeper, sweeter, more complex flavour, which is why I wish they made their way into more salads. After all, there’s no rule that says your salad veggies must be crisp and raw. Instead of a desiccated, shredded carrot, you could bless your salad with slightly caramelised carrot coins, or swap out rubbery white mushroom slices for meaty, roasted quarters.
Potato salad isn’t made with raw potatoes, but it’s no great culinary secret that spuds benefit from a bit of browning, and there’s no reason you have to make your potato salad with boiled potatoes.
Roasting potatoes before tossing them with a (usually) mayo-based dressing gives your salad a stronger backbone. Roasted potatoes give the dressing something to lean against, serving a larger variety of textures and flavours in each bite. The potatoes become a main character, rather than a mere carrier for mayo, onion, and (if you’re lucky) bacon and/or cheese.
Like any salad, a good potato salad is all about contrast. Nearly any potato salad can be made with roasted potatoes — just swap ‘em in for boiled boys — but the best-roasted potato salad contains a good bit of acid, a few fresh vegetables (for texture), and a healthy smattering of herbs (especially dill).
Does my personal roasted potato salad contain blue cheese and jowl bacon? Yes, because I like to party, but the bacon serves a dual purpose: The fat and deglazed bits are both used in the dressing, giving the whole bowl a smoky, indulgent vibe. I also included some shallots and radishes, but you can use whatever vegetables you like. Tender-crisp asparagus would be nice.
Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette (serves 2-4 people as a side — scale up as needed)
What you’ll need:
For the salad:
- 450g fingerling potatoes, sliced in half length-wise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 170g bacon, preferably jowl bacon (aka guanciale), cut into half-inch lardon
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3-4 radishes sliced thin (If your radishes are big, use three; if they’re small, use four)
- Half of a large eschalot (sliced thin)
- 4 sliced shallots, divided roughly into two piles
- 30g blue cheese, divided into two portions
- 1 tablespoon (4-5 sprigs) chopped, fresh dill, plus another sprig or two for garnishing
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat (from cooking your bacon)
- 1 tablespoon of the bacon pan wine reduction (from deglazing the pan you cooked the bacon in)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 whole, peeled clove of garlic
- A pinch of salt
- Slice the fingerling potatoes in half and toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt and toss again.
- Roast in the oven (or air fryer) at 200C until the potatoes are soft throughout and crispy on the edges (about half an hour for the oven or 15 minutes for the air fryer), tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the potatoes are roasting, cook your bacon lardon in a stainless steel pan over medium-low heat, letting the fat slowly render out. Once the bacon is crisp, remove with a slotted spatula and pour the fat into a coffee cup. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 a cup of wine, making sure to scrape up the little browned bits with a wooden spoon, and let it reduce to a couple of tablespoons.
- Add two tablespoons of the bacon fat and one tablespoon of the reduction to a blender, or a cup big enough to accommodate the head of an immersion blender. Add the remaining dressing ingredients, blend until smooth, and set the whole batch in the refrigerator to chill and thicken.
- Toss the bacon, radishes, shallot, lighter half of the scallions, half of the blue cheese, and a tablespoon of each herb with the potatoes, then drizzle on enough dressing to coat everything. You want to stop adding dressing just before it starts to pool at the bottom. I used about 80% of mine. Garnish with the greener half of the green onion, the other half of the cheese, and the feathery bits of a couple of sprigs of dill. You can also let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours (especially the garlic) develop and meld, and add all the finishing touches just before serving.
Roasted potato salad will stay “good” for up to at least three days, but I doubt it will last you that long.