There's always a debate about potato salad: What ingredients are absolutely, positively necessary? Should the potatoes be hot or cold when the mayo is added? What kinds of potatoes are best to use? Is celery a must? Mustard?
Now, a veteran potato salad maker will have all the answers to these questions, as best suits the family that eats it. And that's the thing, isn't it? Everybody has an opinion on what is the best potato salad.
So, we're wiping out all the preconceptions about the classic summer side dish, except some key tips and pieces of advice (at right). Forget any notion you had about potato salad and bring your imagination as you peruse these recipes, where everything from spinach to raisins and horseradish to a curry combo of spices come into the mix.
Yes, we expect you won't throw out Grandma's recipe, but maybe you'll dip a serving spoon into uncharted waters and try one of these.
TV chef Sara Moulton provided this recipe to the Associated Press. Surprise: There's no oil in this salad. She managed that little trick by composing a dressing so flavorful -- the keys are chipotle, cilantro and garlic -- no one notices the lack of fat, she said.
The chipotles (or smoked jalapeno chilies) are the crucial ingredient. You can find them in your supermarket simply dried or in an adobo sauce. I prefer the adobo, made of tomato and vinegar, because it adds a lovely flavor of its own. The chili's heat is counter-balanced with the slight sweetness of the seasoned rice vinegar and by the sweet potatoes. (If you happen to be a cilantro hater, substitute basil or mint.)
One final note: Toss the sweet potatoes with the dressing while they're still warm, which helps them to absorb the dressing and become deeply flavored.
SWEET POTATO, GRILLED CORN AND BLACK BEAN SALAD WITH SPICY CILANTRO DRESSING
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 clove garlic
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
4 ears corn, husked
15 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Heat the grill to medium.
In a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until just tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl.
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the garlic, chipotle, shallot, cilantro and vinegar. Puree until smooth. Taste, then season with salt. When the potatoes are done, pour half of the dressing over them, then toss well. Set aside to cool.
While the potatoes cool, prepare the corn. Mist the corn with cooking spray, then grill, turning often, until the ears are lightly browned in spots on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and set aside to cool until easily handled. Cut the kernels from the cobs. To do this, one at a time stand each ear on its wide end, then carefully saw down the length of the cob on all sides. You should have at least 2 cups of kernels.
Stir the corn kernels, beans and scallions into the potatoes, adding additional dressing as desired. Taste, then adjust seasoning.
Servings: 6, each with 260 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 54 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 17 grams sugar, 9 grams protein, 1,250 mg sodium.
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 3-inch chunks
3 pieces bacon, cooked till crispy and crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and pepper
1. Heat potatoes in a large pot with salted water. When it reaches a boil, turn down heat and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes or just until tender. Roughly smash them, with a hand masher or fork, making sure to leave large pieces.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, make hard-boiled eggs. Place in saucepan, cover with water and heat. When water reaches a boil, set timer for 10 minutes. When done, rinse eggs in cold water, then peel and chop.
3. Add chopped egg, bacon and green onions to potatoes.
4. Whisk together Greek yogurt, mayo and mustard, and fold into the potatoes. Taste for seasonings. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 4 to 6 servings (based on 4), each with 270 calories, 11 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 114 milligrams cholesterol, 220 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Fort-Worth Star Telegram
SUE'S SNEAKY POTATO SALAD
3 pounds small red skin potatoes (or substitute russets)
2 teaspoons olive oil, optional
3 shallots, peeled, sliced, optional
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 pound bacon, cooked (see note)
4 cups chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 bunch (about 6) green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
Morton Nature's Seasons seasoning blend
Salt and pepper to taste, optional
2 cups reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Morton Nature's Seasons seasoning blend
Scrub the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place the potatoes in a large pot, and add cold water to cover by at least 1 inch . Bring to a boil and continue boiling about 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Test with a knife; it should easily pierce the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and cool.
Meanwhile, if using the shallots, heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the shallots and saute until caramelized, about 6 minutes; they will be a golden brown.
In a large serving bowl, combine the shallots, eggs, crumbled bacon, spinach, celery, green onion and dill.
Add the cooled potatoes, and gently combine all the ingredients. Sprinkle with Morton (*25*)s seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix together.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook's note: You can cook the bacon as you wish, but I like it sprinkled with brown sugar in the oven. Here's what to do: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bacon strips on a parchment- or foil-lined sided baking sheet. Or place on a rack set on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar. Bake until crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, when cool, crumble the bacon into pieces.
Serves 16, each with 246 calories 13 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 687 mg sodium, 89 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.
Susan M. Selasky, Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen
Smoked potato salad with Vidalia onions, horseradish and mustard
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved
4 bacon slices, diced
1 cup diced Vidalia onion, diced
1/2 cup each red wine vinegar and beef broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 bunch watercress leaves
Potatoes: Par-cook and grill potato halves.
Cook bacon in a skillet until just crisped. Add onion and caramelize. Remove from heat.
Add rest of potato ingredients and combine.
Place cooked potatoes in a shallow baking dish. Pour bacon-onion mixture on top. Chill uncovered in refrigerator 2 hours.
Sauce: Mix ingredients and chill until serving.
Serve: Gently stir 1 cup chopped celery and 1/2 cup chopped green onions into potato salad. Adjust seasoning. Place in serving bowl. Top with some sauce. Sprinkle with watercress leaves. Serve extra horseradish sauce on the side.
CURRY POTATO SALAD
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups frozen peas, rinsed to thaw
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 small or 1/2 medium red onion, minced (about 1 cup)
2 cups Greek-style plain yogurt
6 tablespoons lemon juice, or more for a thinner, tangier dressing
2 tablespoons cilantro (optional)
Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from heat and drain, leaving potatoes in the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and leave in the pot until slightly cooled.
Place oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili powder and cook about 5 minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
Stir together yogurt, lemon juice and onion mixture in a large serving bowl. Add potatoes, peas and cilantro and mix gently to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Kathleen Purvis of the Charlotte Obsever said this recipe is adapted website www.food52.com.
Meredith Myers is with the U.S. Potato Board, an industry-supported group based in Colorado.
The glory of potato salad is that you can do just about anything with it, she says.(*29*)
The key: Think about the basic elements and preparation techniques, then use them to build a better potato salad. Here's some advice
RETHINK THE SPUDS
Reds and russets have been the go-to spud for years, but markets now boast petites, fingerlings, yellows, purples, blues.
Different varieties of potatoes have different cooking and taste properties.
A russet cooks up with a starchier texture. If you boil it too long it will fall apart.
Reds or yellows and a lot of fingerlings have a firmer, waxier texture that holds its shape a little better after it's been boiled.
One is not better than another, but if you're boiling a potato for a salad and you want it to maintain its firm texture, then you want a waxier potato.
Blues and purples have a medium starch level -- not as starchy as a russet and not as waxy as a red. They're moist, have a firm flesh, a kind of earthy flavor.
To skin or not to skin: Leave the skin. It adds texture, flavor and color.
Mix 'em or match 'em: Go ahead and use different varieties of potatoes in the same potato salad, but you don't want to cook them in the same pan. Russets will cook differently than potatoes with less starch.
COOK 'EM UP
Start by cutting potatoes into roughly equal-size pieces before cooking; this helps them finish cooking at the same time.
On the stove top: Put cut-up russets in a pot of cold water, turn heat to medium-high or high and cook quickly -- so keep them on a boil -- until fork tender.
With waxier potatoes, put them in cold water, turn heat to medium-high, bring them to a boil a little slower and cook to fork tender.
On the grill: For a wonderful smoky flavor, put potato halves in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave, covered, until just tender. Cool slightly; coat lightly with olive oil. Grill 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally.
MIX UP THE MIX-INS
Sub a vinaigrette or yogurt dressing for the usual mayo-base and consider these ideas:
Mediterranean: Seeded cucumber cubes (instead of celery), kalamata olives, feta chunks, fire-roasted tomatoes.
Mexican: Diced bell pepper, cooked corn kernels, diced red onion, fresh cilantro.
Farmers market: Snips of fresh herbs or tomatoes with fresh spinach and a lemon vinaigrette.
DRESS 'EM HOT OR DRESS 'EM COLD?
Whether you add a dressing to warm potatoes depends on how strong you want flavors.
If you allow potatoes to cool then add ingredients, the potato salad is going to have a purer potato flavor.
If you want the potatoes to take on the flavor of the other ingredients, toss added ingredients while warm.
Adapted from "American Flavor," a cookbook by New York chef Andrew Carmellini, who suggests yellow-fleshed potatoes (such as Yukon Gold). We used halved fingerlings, with excellent results.