potato salad with lemon and fresh herbs

Potato salad with lemon and fresh herbs

3 July 2017

For the last five years, the brightest week of our year is the week we spend with our friends from Germany. They live outside Munich with their four kids; we live outside San Francisco with our four matching kids. They’ve come to visit us in Ohio and in California, and once we met them in Niagara Falls. We’ve been to Munich twice – once two years ago, and then again this June, for our friend Florian’s 50th birthday celebration.

The four of us have been friends since our single days in New York City, and with our annual visits, our kids are close like cousins now. Once a year isn’t much. But it’s enough. In five years we’ve gone from having eight little kids to having half teens. The memories are everything.

We hesitated to stay with them this trip – they were having close to 130 family and friends for the birthday party, and their kids were still finishing up their school year. But they insisted, and we tried to be as helpful as six people who don’t speak the language in a foreign country can be.

My friend Jojo is a superstar, so she had it all supremely under control. I helped prep and clean in the kitchen. But mostly we ate and ate Jojo’s fantastic food.

I wish I could bring it all back home – the sausages, vinegary potato salad, yogurt, cheeses, fresh-baked pretzels. But I did bring back this lemony potato salad – so fresh, loaded with chopped herbs – which is the perfect partner for any summer cookout. Jojo made it our first night in Munich to accompany simple grilled chicken, salad and roasted vegetables, and the potatoes were so good they became my main course.

It’s quick to put together with just a few ingredients – potatoes, lemon, herbs, olive oil, honey and salt. Make a big batch and eat it for days. It’s just as good or better left over, for lazy summer snacking.

It’ll take two secs to show you how it’s done. But first, a few quick shots of our Bavarian feasting…

This breakfast spread. Can you even?

Jojo’s teen daughter whips up the smoothest, loveliest mixture of plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt and quark (thick like sour cream but slightly sweet), which is divine with fresh berries. If only we had yogurt like this here.

It was one party after another. You can’t appreciate it in a photo, but these were the biggest wedges of cheese I’d ever actually eaten from. The knives we used to cut them were the size of knife you’d use to butcher chicken. It was like nibbling from a giant’s table.

Fresh pretzels and mountains of orange-hued obatzda, the classic Bavarian cheese spread; plus potato salad, meatballs and sausages. So. Much. Food.

But back to the potato salad – lemony and a little sweet, with generous fistfuls of chopped herbs, some from Jojo’s garden.

Summer is such a great time for this dish, when herbs are plentiful and fresh. The recipe makes plenty, because the leftovers are seriously great for snacking straight out of the fridge (which I did all week).

Small waxy potatoes hold their shape the best, but you can also use medium waxy potatoes and cut them into smaller chunks.

Add salt when the water boils (salted water takes longer to reach a boil), and cook until just tender.

Chop herbs and mix simple lemon dressing while potatoes cook.

Add dressing to hot potatoes.

And herbs.

Mix well.

If you use larger potatoes, or cook them too long, or both, the dish looks messier. But in some ways the taste is even better, as the dressing absorbs fully.

But do as I say, not as I do, and you’ll be sitting (and eating) pretty. Happy Fourth of July!

Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs
The ideal summer cookout dish – lemony and a little sweet, with generous fistfuls of chopped herbs. From my friend Jojo in Munich, whose food and taste always inspire me.


  • 3 pounds small waxy potatoes (white, gold or red-skinned new potatoes)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (1 cup, more or less)
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped (1 cup, more or less)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (1 cup, more or less)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 3 medium lemons)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste), plus additional salt for cooking water


  1. Wash potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks (eg halve very small potatoes, quarter slightly larger ones). Place in a large pot and add cold water to cover potatoes. Heat to boiling on stovetop, then salt the water and turn down to low to simmer until potatoes are tender – cook time 15-25 minutes depending on potato size. (You’ll want the potatoes soft enough that a fork inserted is easily removed again, but not so soft that the fork splits the potato.)
  2. While potatoes cook, wash and chop herbs. Trim off the ends of the scallion and use the rest (both green and white). Parsley and mint leaves need to be removed from the stems before chopping (pluck or use a knife). But smaller cilantro stems are soft and flavorful, so if you don’t mind a little crunch, you can chop the soft stems with the leaves.
  3. In a mixing cup or small bowl, add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, honey and salt. Mix well with a fork.
  4. When potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander and add them to a large bowl. While potatoes are hot, add lemon mixture and herbs and mix well. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 9-12 (and makes great leftovers).


  • Substitute herbs as you like – basil would also be great in summer, or whatever you have in quantity.
  • For an adult audience, a sprinkle of cayenne into the dressing adds a subtle kick.
  • Leftovers are delicious cold from the fridge, or warmed to room temperature.
  • You can use medium-sized waxy potatoes (red or gold) as well; cut into bite-sized chunks before cooking. The cut chunks break apart somewhat when mixed, so the dish will look messier, but the benefit is that the cut pieces also absorb the dressing more fully.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney 15 July 2017 at 12:17 pm

Lillian! Wonderful to see you in Munich, and thank you for writing this up. I am in the middle of making it today, and needed to double-check the recipe. It tastes pretty good so far….I’m adding a few green beans from the stalks I’m growing on my porch, for an extra little crunch.

I hope you and your crew are well and enjoyed the rest of your time in Europe!


cg 16 July 2017 at 11:04 am

yay court!! pls come visit california, the whole crew keeps asking when we get to see you again. hope the potato salad brings some happy bavarian memories!


mm 28 September 2017 at 6:48 pm

It’s so good to get together with old friends, wish we could do it more often too. The potato salad looks simple and delicious, thanks for sharing 😉


Ying 17 October 2017 at 8:50 am

I wish I could have joined you there in Munich! They looked so delicious


cg 24 October 2017 at 11:37 am

hi ying – you would have loved it! so good. =)


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