The Base Jamie Oliver Always Starts With For Potato Salad

A classic summer side dish that never seems to go out of style, potato salad is one of those old standbys we can always depend on to enliven a BBQ, potluck, or picnic. Pleasing to a wide range of palates and almost infinitely customizable, the cookout favorite seems to go with everything, whether the rest of the meal features juicy grilled chicken, loaded burgers, or simply seared fish.

A dish that is more than approachable for even inexperienced home cooks, potato salad nonetheless counts many a professional chef among its fans. Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Giada de Laurentiis, and tons more pros keep recipes for potato salad tucked in their back pockets, and while their ingredients and techniques for the dish might vary, there's one thing all chefs know: Potato salad must be seasoned generously. That starts with salting the water used to cook the potatoes, according to Bon Appétit, and in the case of celeb chef Jamie Oliver, it means generously salting the cooked, cubed potatoes when they're fresh out of the water and still warm.

The spuds in Jamie Oliver's potato salad get a generous slick of flavor even before they're dressed

Somewhat neutral-tasting before they're seasoned, starchy potatoes need a lot of salt to fully inhabit their deliciousness. Potatoes should, therefore, always be cooked in salted water, according to Bon Appétit, and when potato salad is on the menu, they should also be tossed with more salt while they're still warm.

As explained by Allrecipes, potatoes' cell walls open up while they're warm, but begin to close again as they cool. That's why it's vital to season cubed potatoes for potato salad as soon as the spuds come out of the water, even before they're bound with mayo or your dressing of choice. It's a method Jamie Oliver always employs when making potato salad, as he demonstrates in a YouTube video. Whether he's choosing between his lemon and olive oil, yogurt and mustard, or indulgent bacon dressings, Oliver always coats the warm potatoes in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and lots of salt and pepper first, so the potatoes can drink everything in while they're still warm.

"Often when you flavor things when they're cold, it just sits on the outside," Oliver says in the video. "Because it's hot, whatever you put in now will go into the actual veggies." So no matter what type of dressing you'll choose to further flavor the spuds, this first step will ensure they're seasoned and delicious — all the way through.