There’s a lot of good eating coming from the gardens right now: beans, summer squashes, snap peas, greens, lots of herbs. We’re snitching almost-ready-to-harvest garlic and onions and digging along under the mulch to feel for new potatoes. This is the perfect time to bring those tiny tubers in for consumption because they don’t need peeling — a huge plus in my eyes. If you have a colander full of new potatoes fresh from the garden, rinse away the excess soil and then scrub them with one of those sponges that has a scritchy green side. The skins will slough off and your potatoes will be as smooth and white as a hard-boiled egg. Then you can go on to boil them and make one of summer’s favorite sides, potato salad. Once the spuds are fork-tender, just drain and use — no messy skin removal needed.

We like any kind of potato salads around here, especially the classic, but are open to new versions. All of the following recipes call for about three pounds of small new potatoes. To cook them, place potatoes and two tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes in a colander, then allow them to cool to room temperature. NB: If you are a fan of hard-boiled eggs in your potato salad, put them in the pan to cook with the potatoes.

The second best thing about making potato salad in high summer, right behind not having to peel away skins, is the availability of all the onions, peppers, celery and herbs right in the garden. If only we could produce our own olive oil, we’d have a totally locavore salad....

C L A S S I C   P O T A T O   S A L A D

3 pounds cooked new potatoes, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
14 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. sugar
14 cup each chopped fresh dill, chives and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
12 cup chopped celery
12 cup chopped sweet onion
12 cup chopped green pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Set aside. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. While potatoes are still warm, pour dressing over them and add the celery, onion and green pepper, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate. Serve cold or at room temperature. NB: If you feel it’s not potato salad without hardboiled eggs, chop the eggs and add them with the chopped vegetables. Or halve the eggs, place them on top of the salad and let diners choose to eat them or not.

Here’s a maple-bacon potato salad that’s most like a German or Pennsylvania Dutch version.

M A P L E - B A C O N   P O T A T O   S A L A D

3 pounds cooked new potatoes, room temperature
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
14 cup apple cider vinegar
14 cup pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
14cup minced parsley
While potatoes are cooling, cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Drain all but two tablespoons bacon grease from pan. Sauté onion in grease until soft, add vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, and half of the bacon. Simmer over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly reduced. Toss warm potatoes with vinaigrette and garnish with remaining bacon and parsley. Serve warm.

Basil is coming on strong now and we’ve been making pesto in all its manifestations: classic, with basil, garlic, parsley, oil, pine nuts and Parmesan, as well as ones that use what we have the most of at any given time, like garlic scapes and chives. A lot of the pesto goes into the freezer, but the following potato salad uses some fresh pesto in a take on a Caprese salad.

P E S T O   C A P R E S E   P O T A T O   S A L A D

1 cup packed fresh basil
12 cup fresh parsley
14 cup olive oil
14 cup pine nuts or other nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
34 cup plain Greek yogurt
14 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
12 tsp. each salt and pepper
3 pounds cooked new potatoes, room temperature
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 container tiny mozzarella balls
In a food processor combine basil, parsley, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times, then slowly add olive oil while mixing. Scrape down sides, add Greek yogurt and process until completely combined. In a large serving bowl, combine potatoes, tomatoes and mozzarella. Fold pesto mixture gently into the salad, coating evenly.