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Take your potatoes to the south of France

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I like this recipe for French-style potatoes because it is suitable for almost any amount, whether you are thinking of a potluck or just two people for Valentine's Day. When a recipe gives you credit for understanding how to put together anything from two potatoes to a five-pound bag, you can safely assume that the recipe writer trusts your intelligence, which I appreciate.

The only thing you really should do before making this dish is to make sure you have some new-potato-type spuds in the kitchen. Irish or red potatoes will be pretty (don't overcook them until the red turns gray), as will Yukon Gold and the many varieties of "baby" and fingerling potatoes that you can now find. I have noticed quite a variety of potatoes nowadays in Tucson, from Safeway to Sprouts, and many of them are the organic type, which is even better.

This isn't absolutely necessary, but the basic assumption underlying all the recommendations for the waxy-type potatoes is because they will hold together better after being boiled. They make better potato salad as well, simply because they will not be as crumbly as the Idaho-style potatoes that are simply divine when baked or made into dishes such as Potatoes Anna.

So what you do is assemble the following cast of characters:

Your potatoes, cut into dice and peeled or not, as you prefer
1 medium to large yellow onion
2-3 tomatoes, chopped and seeded
Green and black olives, seedless, chopped
Red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Herbes de Provence or Fines Herbes
Olive oil (does not have to be extra virgin)

Cut up your potatoes and simmer them until they are tender. Drain them and set them aside.

In a skillet, combine the onion with the tomatoes and olives. Let them sweat for 5 minutes or so in olive oil, depending on the quantities, until the onion is tender.

Transfer the onion mixture to the potatoes. Add salt, pepper and red-wine vinegar to combine them, stirring very gently. Sprinkle with your herb mixture and test for seasonings. Serve hot.

This is a good dish to go with a rich roasted chicken, just to cut the flavors of butter and flour that may go with a gravy. A lemon-roasted chicken would go well with it all. Serve with a sparkling rose wine or a light red.

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