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Who says potato salad has to be boring? (Photo credit: Doug Young)

On the North and South Fork, we feel that old trope, “In like a lion out like a lamb.” With our two-pronged geography bound by bay, Sound and ocean, you might say that weather, both the delightful and dreadful kinds, are a part of daily life. Spring officially arrived last night around 11 p.m. blowing in with frosty winds and a couple of very chilly days. But today, the first full day of it, is feeling like the weather the groundhog promised.

It’s the kind of warming that sets your mind happily toward the milder days ahead — and with that, the barrage of entertaining and family gatherings that will fill our calendars. We don’t like turning anyone away, so a classic, self-service buffet-style meal is always the practical and hospitable way to cater to guests (and the extra strays), especially regarding side dishes.

This recipe from Port Jefferson and Palm Beach chef Lia Fallon hits all the marks for spring entertaining, including family tradition.

“I remember having this salad at all my family’s buffet lunches,” recounts Fallon, a seasoned caterer, restaurateur and food stylist, of her Sicilian grandmother’s recipe, “especially in the Spring as an Easter side dish.”

Slicing the potatoes into matchsticks brings visual appeal, (“We eat with our eyes first,” says Fallon), while the olives and white balsamic add zing and zip to the green beans.

Fallon’s impressive resume drops some beloved East End names from her early days — teaching cooking classes at Loaves & Fishes in Bridgehampton and receiving exceptional reviews as the former executive chef and owner of the sorely missed Amarelle in Wading River and behind the line as executive chef at Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, among others. Much of that recognition can be traced to both her talent and her love of seasonal fare and supporting local farms.

“I love the Andrews Family Farm on Sound Avenue in Wading River (whose CSA 2024 registration is open now). “I worked with them every season on providing the freshest fruits and vegetables for my restaurant and catering events.”

And while we may have to wait a bit for local green beans, this recipe can extend far into the longer days of this welcoming season.

A few tips: after quickly blanching your green beans in boiling water, immediately transfer them into ice water to guarantee crispness and bright green color.

Rinsed capers can be an additional ingredient or even an alternative to olives.

Buffets offer the opportunity to make even a simple dish of potatoes and green beans beautiful, especially if plated on a vintage or lovingly used platter. We’re big fans of Eastport General Store for their curated collections of vintage tableware finds! NoFo bound? Whiteflower Farmhouse in Southold can make all your beautiful buffet dreams come true with their impressive linens and locally made ceramic tableware.

Chef Lia Fallon’s Italian potato salad —nonna style

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Serves 4 servings


  • 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 lb French green beans, blanched
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1/2 cup Italian black olives (can substitute with the olive of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


  • Place potatoes in a stock pot, cover with very cold water, and add ¼ cup kosher salt. Bring potatoes to a boil, then simmer until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Check tenderness with a toothpick.
  • Drain potatoes, let cool and then peel and slice potatoes, preferably cut into matchsticks (cubed, diced or crumbled will also work).
  • Add all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and toss. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour or up to 12 hours.
  • Serve with crusty Italian bread. Enjoy!