Recently when I was in charge of the Memorial Day food choices, I definitely wanted potato salad on the menu. Sure, we had pita chips with tzatziki dip, beans, burgers, lamb chops and pork souvlakia, but, in my opinion, a summertime cookout is not complete without potato salad. I have been experimenting with a lighter, healthier version, and when better than on Memorial Day to try it out on my family? Now, I didn’t share with them that I wasn’t making our old family standby favorite; I just sprung this new one on them. I have decided it is good hot, room temperature or chilled, and because I added no eggs or dairy, I’m sure it is a safer version to serve when picnicking, tailgating or when foods are served buffet style outside.
Did I mention my husband grew up on his family’s produce farm in Ohio? I’m sure in past columns I have mentioned it, but I don’t think I talked about one of the main vegetables they grew. It was potatoes. Yes, I was lucky enough to date him in high school, so I was given the opportunity to assist with the digging, sorting, washing and bagging of, you guessed it, potatoes. I couldn’t even tell you what variety they were; to me they were just brown potatoes. These potatoes were so good that two local major grocery-chain companies were the farm’s largest customers. With all this potato knowledge, I was sure my husband possessed, I turned to him to ask what type of potato is best for potato salad. He gave me this questioning look and a silent stare.
“I have no idea, but we grew Katahdin, heirloom potatoes and Kennebec potatoes named for Presque Isle Station, in Kennebec, Maine, if that helps,” he said.
It really didn’t help much except to add the type of potatoes to my knowledge of the produce grown on his family farm. So, I turned to Google. Oh my gosh, what would we do without it? According to Google, “The best potatoes for potato salad are waxy potatoes such as Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold and red potatoes that hold their shape when they’re cooked and keep their firm texture in the salad when you chop them up and toss them with dressing.”
Now that I had the answer, I sent my daughter and granddaughters to the store to buy any of the above potatoes. A few minutes later they returned with a bag of organic gold potatoes – perfect! Needless to say, what I served was different and lighter than our regular mayonnaise-smothered dish I usually serve, but it was good; not just OK good, but really good; even the next day. We actually reheated it and topped it with a bit of crumbled cheese and had it as a hot side dish with our leftover lamb chops. So, “Please Join Our Table” as we share, one potato, two potato ... salad recipes!
My Olive Oil and Lemon Potato Salad
1 and 1/2 pounds potatoes, about 6 medium (see variety above)
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and rough chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 green bell pepper cleaned, seeds removed and chopped into cubes
1/2 sweet red pepper cleaned, seeds removed and chopped into cubes
4-5 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, stems removed and leaves rough chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or red pepper seeds (or more to taste)
1 cup of lemon and olive oil dressing (recipe to follow)
3/4 cup olive oil (I use Fotis Tsonis’ Peloponnese Greek olive oil, a local company: rootsoliveoil.com)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or your herbs of choice)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, rough chopped
1 teaspoon each, fresh basil and mint, rough chopped
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley leaves and 1/4 teaspoon capers for topping/garnish
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese for topping (optional)
Directions for dressing: Place olive oil in a medium bowl, briskly whisk in lemon juice, add herbs and mix well.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until tender – they need to be soft but still firm enough to retain their shape. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes; set aside (It is your option to peel them or not). While the potatoes are cooling, make the dressing (see above). Pour the potatoes into a large bowl; fold in remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the potato salad and gently mix ingredients. Garnish with more parsley and capers if desired. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
Cheaters Easy Potato Salad
3 pounds store-bought, old-fashioned potato salad
1/3 cup diced celery
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pickle relish, squeezed in a paper towel to remove the juice (dill or sweet your choice; I use sweet)
2 teaspoons whole celery seed
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced; reserve one egg for topping
In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, saving one egg for topping. Carefully smooth out potato salad, top with reserved egg slices, sprinkle with a little more paprika, chill at least 1 hour and serve.