I guess it’s pretty easy to figure out from the title that this post is about potato salad, huh?
I’m also willing to guess that a good portion of Americans have grown up with potato salad. I’m also willing to guess that the potato salad most of us have grown up with is mayonnaise based. Thick, gloppy, slightly sweet, supermarket containers of potato salad, or your Aunt Rose’s or neighbor’s homemade thick, gloppy, slightly sweet, mayonnaise based potato salad, with lots of egg – one that would inevitably sit out in the sun for hours, (though no one ever contracted or died of staphylococcus or salmonella), at every Sunday or summer BBQ.
Once in a while, someone would shock the suburban BBQ system and show up with a German potato salad, 100% vinegar based..no mayonnaise. We’d all slowly circle this alien bowl of potatoes, potatoes without the creamy glop we were used to. You could actually see the potatoes, and they were actually the color of peeled potatoes, not mysterious lumps blanketed beneath a white dressing with bits of eggs, celery, and onions.
“Are you gonna try it?”
“No, you try it first and tell me if it’s good.”
Inevitably, someone would try it, usually me, and although it wasn’t bad..my palate was trained on creamy mayonnaise dressing. So after the initial scrunch face from the acidity of the the vinegar, my review usually went something like this;
“Ummm…I don’t know, not really potato salad to me, too vinegary.“
Before I go on, this month’s Daring Cooks challenge is pretty cool. It’s partly a contest, with prizes and a chance to get your recipe out there via the US potato board. Not too shabby.
Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!
Thankfully, palates break from the traditional and change as we grow, but I knew I was still in the ‘rut’ at 18 when an ex-BF’s mom promised us a BBQ and some homemade potato salad when we returned from the beach. As the day went on, and my hunger grew (residual, secondhand smoke from his friend’s daily uhhh..
toke ..errr, smoke, catapulted that hunger), visions of creamy potato salad swirled through my head, served alongside a juicy burger, some of the mayonnaise from the potato salad smearing on the bun, making each bite a blended delight. I also couldn’t wait to slap some of that creamy potato salad on my burger. Have you ever tried that? If not, I recommend you do.
I think you know where this is going.
When Mama of Ex-Dreamboat appeared through the haze of charcoal smoke carrying a big, red bowl, undoubtedly filled with loads of creamy, eggy potatoes, just waiting to melt on my tongue, my stomach started rumbling like a teenager’s souped-up car. I ran to her to help by taking the bowl from her and placing it on an empty spot on the table, right in front of my plate.
I wanted first dibs.
When the burgers were ready, I excitedly pulled the foil off the top of the bowl in one fell swoop.
The dread was thick and immediate. It was like hitting a whammy on Press Your Luck, and this sound blared in my head. It was German potato salad, in all of its warm, vinegary glory.
“Did you know my Mom was German?” Dreamboat asked while scooping up a heaping portion of this vinegary bowl of whammy.
“No, Dreamboat, I didn’t, but now I do.” I replied, smiling, but secretly feeling miserable.
I almost sneezed when the vinegar hit my nasal cavities, but at least my watery eyes disguised the real tears that could have come at any moment since the disappointment was fierce. I smiled and said “Wow, looks great”. I may as well have admitted I was personally responsible for the breakdown of the ozone layer because that’s how disingenuous it sounded. I begrudgingly took a whole tablespoon of the potato salad and pretended to enjoy it immensely.
Fast forward to college and thereafter. My palate finally took a step off the beaten path and kept walking. I now appreciate a good potato salad without mayonnaise – warm or cold. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a mayo-based potato salad, but I was finally able to take some potato forks in the road and appreciate all kinds of preparations. A mayo-free blue cheese- apple potato salad became my go to in my 20′s, even at Sunday BBQ’s, no matter how horrified some traditionalists appeared when I showed it off, pleading with them to “Just taste it!”
Well..I’ve taken that route again, but in a much healthier way. I came up with a Mango-Ginger-Cashew Potato Salad (You can substitute apple for the mango, just as good and crunchier) with only 2 tablespoons of low fat mayonnaise, and fat-free Greek yogurt, minus the blue cheese. Creamy without all the extra calories and fat, and loaded with flavor and texture.
I would have omitted the mayonnaise completely if not for missing it a bit after a few tastes. It needed that creamy egg and oil component so it wouldn’t taste completely like yogurt with fruit, shallots, and potatoes. It was one of those scour the fridge and ‘create’ moments, and I think it worked out pretty well. It’s got it all, fruity, savory, soft, creamy, crunchy and a little heat from the ginger. So far, no horrified looks, just thumbs up. Try it..I know you want to at least taste it.
For my warm potato salad, an idea struck at the last minute; like last night last minute. I remembered this amazing spicy, chile, lime, honey lobster noodle salad I had, created by renowned chef and owner of many fabulous restaurants, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The dressing on the lobster and noodles was to.die.for; sweet, savory, spicy and tart. I decided to adapt this dressing to a potato-lobster salad, eliminating a few ingredients and changing the measurements to bode well with the amount of potatoes and lobster I was using.
WOW, I was so happy with how this turned out that I couldn’t stop taking forkfuls, even hours after I ate. Once again, you’ve got to try it. You can substitute shrimp, crab, scallops or even monk fish, for the lobster. Oh, did I mention that this one was also healthy?
Well…that’s it for my two new potato salads. To see all the unique and creative potato salads my fellow Daring Cooks came up with, click on the links to their blogs, HERE. To see and try a variety of recipes for all kinds of healthy potato salads from all over the world, click HERE.
Potato Salad heaven!
- 2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- ¾ cup Greek, plain fat-free yogurt
- 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
- 1 mango, OR 1 small to medium, tart apple, peeled and diced
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
- 1 red jalapeno chile, seeded and diced (optional)
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped mint or parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Toasted cashew nuts, chopped (optional)
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook over high heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain, gently shaking off the excess water. Spread on a baking sheet,to cool then place in a bowl and drizzle with two tablespoon of cider vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the coldest part of your refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the chopped mango or apple, garlic, chile, ginger, roasted pepper, shallots, and mint or parsley. Fold in the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and let chill, covered, for several hours or overnight, to let the for flavors meld.
- Sprinkle with toasted, chopped cashews and serve. Can be refrigerated up to 2 or 3 days.
- 2 lbs red bliss or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 lobster tail, cooked, shelled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large shallot, diced
- kosher salt
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 fresh long red hot chile (I used a thai bird)
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Asian chile sauce, such as sriracha or sambal oelek
- 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- ½ cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced cilantro leaves
- extra lime wedges for serving
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook over high heat until tender, about 9 minutes. Drain, gently shaking out the excess water. Spread cooked potatoes on a baking sheet to cool. Cut the lobster tail into 1-inch chunks and refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, shallots and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and shallots are golden, 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Roast the red pepper and Thai chile directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Transfer to a plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let cool, or throw them in a ziplock bag and shut both methods so the peels steam off. When cool, peel the bell pepper and chile and discard the stems and seeds; cut into ¼-inch dice and transfer to the bowl with the shallot mixture. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, honey, sriracha or sambal oelek, and sesame oil. Heat up the dressing so it’s very warm, but not quite hot. Season the dressing with salt.
- Pour the warm dressing over the cooled potatoes (it’s important that one is hot and one cold, so the potatoes absorb most of the dressing) and lobster chunks. For more flavor, if desired; let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so the potatoes can absorb the dressing, tossing occasionally, or just serve right away. Top with chopped, toasted peanuts, mint (if using), cilantro, and serve warm.