Potato eater’s salad

Weekend Herb BloggingBack when I lived in D.C., one of my friends watched me wax rhapsodic one day about French fries.

“You’re part Irish, aren’t you?” she asked.

“On my Dad’s side.”

“It’s so obvious, you potato eater,” she said. “It’s definitely not just the freckles.”

I love all things potato: potatoes au gratin, garlicky mashed red skin potatoes, baked potatoes, French fries (preferably with a little mayo on the side…perhaps I’m part-Belgian, too?), and all kinds of potato salad.

I have been known to buy a container of that unnaturally yellow supermarket potato salad and eat that—nothing else—for dinner. I order German potato salad whenever I can get it at restaurants (but, for whatever reason, have never tried to make it). On occasion, I even make potato salad at home.

The problem, of course, is that potato salad generally involves ingredients that, shall we say, don’t fall into generally accepted options for healthy living. If you’ve never looked at either the nutritional information or the ingredients list for that supermarket potato salad, don’t start now. There’s a reason it’s that color, and it doesn’t grow in nature.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been watching and occasionally participating in an online conversation about how to make the best potato salad. While it must be flavorful, it should also be a healthy side dish option.

Last weekend’s farmer’s market featured a grower selling teeny-tiny Yukon Gold and purple potatoes. I have a hard time resisting baby vegetables in any form, so I picked up a combination of the two and brought them home. They’d be perfect for a little potato salad experimentation.

One of the friends participating in the Great Potato Salad Debate suggested her mother-in-law’s (“…she makes the world’s BEST potato salad…”) secret: cook the potatoes the night before, then douse them with salad vinegar, salt and pepper, and let them soak in the flavor overnight. I’ve never tried that, so I thought I’d try it out in the hopes that this one easy step might help pump up the flavor – when you take out all the ingredients that carry all the fat, inevitably you take a flavor hit, too, and that’s what has kept me from making potato salad for an awfully long time.

I used red wine vinegar, and it turned out wonderfully. After mixing in the rest of the ingredients the next day, I had a huge bowl of mad-tasty potato salad on my hands: tangy and creamy, with a hint of relish for sweetness. Perfect for a guilt-free summer dinner side-dish.

Potato saladPotato Eater’s Salad

2 pounds assorted baby potatoes (preferably an assortment of colors)
3-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
3 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. tarragon mustard
2 Tbsp. sweet relish
3 dashes hot sauce

Scrub the potatoes and cut them in half (or smaller—go for even-sized pieces). Boil them in salted water until tender. Toss them with the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and let them cool overnight.

When ready to serve, add the onion, mayonnaise, mustard, relish and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. You may find you like more mayonnaise or mustard, or more relish or salt and pepper. Consider this recipe more guideline than gospel!

This post is part of Weekend Herb Blogging, which is back home at Kalyn’s Kitchen this week. Please check out the rest of the great recipes. I’m also excited to announce I’ll be hosting next week’s event here at The Inadvertent Gardener!

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17 Responses to “Potato eater’s salad”


  1. 1 Pamela August 27, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Sounds delish, Genie! Looking forward to giving your recipe a try.
    One question…Do you really mean a tablespoon (3 teaspoons) when you write “tblsp”?

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener August 27, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Pamela, yes, Tbsp=tablespoon in my world o’abbreviation. That’s exactly right. I hope the recipe works out for you!

  3. 3 Kalyn August 27, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    I love the looks of the purple potatoes. Potato salad is one thing I eat once in a while when I’m cheating on my diet. My sister Sandee makes the best. You might be interested to know that for my diet, using regular mayo would be better than fat free (the fat free mayo has sugar). To each her own!

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener August 27, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Kalyn, that’s very interesting — it’s so hard to keep track of what everyone can and can’t eat on their particular plan! How does Sandee make her potato salad? There are so many variations out there…it’s amazing how such a simple dish can be so different from house to house.

  5. 5 Kalyn August 27, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Sandee’s salad has russett potatoes, cooked slightly al dente, lots of boiled eggs, celery seed, Miracle Whip (which does have sugar and which I hate in everything but this potato salad and just a tiny bit of yellow mustard. THAT’S ALL. Anyone in our family would die if any other ingredient were included.

  6. 6 Hanna in Cleveland August 27, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    I can resist cooing over baby humans, but baby veggies… nope just can’t do it.

    Th soaking tip for potato salad (as you found out)… I recommend 100%. Pour that vinegar on top of the potatoes right after you take then out of the boiling water. NO COLD WATER Mmmmmm.

  7. 7 gattina August 28, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    so clever you using assorted colors, the salad tastes good, also look good! German potato salad is my favorite! French fries, don’t start me on that!!!

  8. 8 Christa August 28, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Oh, I love potato salad. German-style (without mayo) is my favorite version. For me, it’s all about getting the right amount of vinegar, oil, and salt… then add onions and other extras like chives, bits of pickle, some spicy mustard and/or diced hard-boiled eggs. YUM!

    I like how you used the purple potatoes in yours. Looks great!

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener August 28, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Kalyn, thanks for sharing Sandee’s secret — that does sound like a winning combination.

    Hanna, I’ve never tried the trick before, but you’re right — it’s golden.

    Gattina, German potato salad’s my favorite, too. I wonder how purple potatoes would fare in that dish…hmm…

    Christa, thanks for the kind words, and for your German potato salad tips — I might have to put them to use!

  10. 10 sher August 29, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I am a potato lover, and I always look for ways to use blue potatoes. This would be a feast for the eyes, as well as the tummy. Thanks!

  11. 11 Annie in Austin August 30, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Genie, although I seldom make potato salad anymore, your technique sounds so intelligent and delicious that we have to try it. The German potato salad from my youth was dressed by frying up a pound of snipped bacon, pouring off 2/3 of the bacon grease, adding sugar and vinegar to what was left in the frying pan, then pouring the mixture over the potatoes. Very healthy, no doubt!

    Thanks from the also part-Irish, spud lovin’ Annie

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener August 31, 2006 at 5:46 am

    Sher, those potatoes are so much fun to use in recipes. The color is fantastic!

    Annie, thanks for stopping by, and let me know how it goes when you try out the recipe — I’d love to hear about it!

  13. 13 Mike May 26, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    I just stumbled accross this recipe. It really looks like a healthy and tasty dish. Potato salads are fantastic!

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener May 26, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Mike, I hope you enjoy it! It’s really tasty, and you’re right — potato salads rule.

  15. 15 Dawkings Family September 16, 2007 at 1:06 am

    We love potatoes too. It is amazing how far the Irish have travelled, we’re in Australia. My great grandmother was born in Dublin and her passed down potato salad recipe is as follows. Although i don’t really go by measurement, just by how many people i have to feed. This feeds my family of five.

    6-8 medium potatoes peeled and quartered cooked but firm
    a good handful of mint chopped finely
    3-4 rashers of bacon cooked to a crisp and crumbled, rind and all
    Egg mayonaise, enough to coat, use to your discretion
    Eshallots sliced if you want

    Cool the potatoes, add bacon,mint and eschallots and give a light stir then add egg mayonaise. This is my all time fave potato recipe, i must admit though, i can not stand egg in potato salad,it just doen’t seem right!!

  16. 16 inadvertentgardener September 16, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Dawkings Family, the combination of mint and bacon sounds really delicious — I would not have thought of that. Yum!


  1. 1 Just this side of awesome « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on August 7, 2007 at 10:43 am

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