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Fear Conquered: Potato Salad
When I think about cooking with love for the people in my life, there's always one person who jumps to mind as the example I should be emulating. Unfortunately, I can't tell you her name because she doesn't know I'm writing this post. And she probably wouldn't want a post dedicated to her anyway. She's far too modest and is simply uninterested in fame or glory.
But I'm going to call her Edna. She lives in my hometown of Pittsburgh and she's been a family friend for as long as I can remember. And Edna has a favorite saying which speaks volumes about her as a person: "It's as easy to cook for ten as it is to cook for one."
I used to marvel at those words and wonder how it could be possible. She would bring salads, casseroles, bars, pies and deviled eggs to share at church potlucks. And as a child scrambling to get to the head of the food line, I would always wonder how Edna managed it. Because the food was always perfect, always comforting, always homemade.
But Edna has a secret and it has nothing to do with scalable recipes, experience, the best ingredients or efficient kitchen appliances. Edna's secret is love. She loved the people she cooked and baked for, whether family or friends, and that love didn't change no matter how many people were involved. Food was Edna's inconspicuous and quiet way to say, "I love you."
Yet Edna would probably never admit this. In fact, she would never tell you she could have a pie ready to bake (all from scratch) in 30 minutes or less - with a perfectly crimped double crust. She would never tell you she makes the best deviled eggs I've ever had - it's just something she throws together. And Edna would never admit that she makes the best potato salad on the planet - a salad by which I judge all other potato salads. Including my own.
Edna's potato salad tastes like quintessential American Fourth of July summer picnics - comfort, happiness and friendship. Yes, it also tastes like perfectly cooked potatoes, creamy mayonnaise and rich hard-boiled eggs (with a crunch of celery and zing of vinegar). But for me, her salad really embodied everything I love about summer.
That's what I have attempted to recreate here. I wanted a classic go-to potato salad with the power to transport me back to friends and family, no matter this distance. I'm happy with where I have arrived - even if it's not Edna's embodiment of happy summer memories.
Thus the potato salad I'm sharing today is only a pale tribute to Edna and her potato salad. Which of course is about more than just potato salad because anyone can throw together potatoes, eggs and mayonnaise. Edna's salad is about all her love that she gives so freely, whether to one person or to ten. And it's the kind of love I hope to be able to someday live and share so freely.
For now, I'll start by sharing potato salad. It's not Edna's, but it's made with love for all those in my life. And it's love I want to share with you.
A little about this salad:
- Roasting Potatoes: I roast potatoes because I don't want to boil away all the nutrients with water. Besides, I believe roasting intensifies the potato flavor and really helps soften tough potato skins.
- Cauliflower and Radish: I'll guarantee Edna did NOT add cauliflower or radish to her potato salad. But I wanted to add more healthful nutrition, so I figured I’d try a little of both. And it works just fine - you will never know either ingredient is there. Unless of course you made the salad and insist on searching amongst bits of egg white and potato. But seriously, they disappear.
- Capers: I don't think Edna added capers either, but I like the briney bite they give this salad. Just don't go crazy with the capers or they will overpower everything.
- Homemade Mayonnaise: I have said this before, I'll say it again now and I'm sure you'll hear me say it in the future - there is no good pre-made substitute for homemade mayonnaise. So I really recommend making your own for this salad. If you use a jarred variety, you will probably need to add additional Dijon mustard, vinegar and lemon juice to the dressing.
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|Wash 10 medium red potatoes.|
|Dice the potatoes into 1-inch chunks.|
|Dice 2 cauliflower stalks.|
|Toss the potatoes and cauliflower with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika.|
|Spread out the potatoes and cauliflower on a half-sheet pan.|
|Roast for 25-30 minutes until a fork can easily slide in and out of a potato. Allow to cool to just warmer than room temperature.|
|Meanwhile, prepare the hard-boiled eggs and dice.|
|Dice 2 stalks of celery.|
|Finely dice 2 radishes.|
|Finely dice 1/2 of a red onion.|
|Finely dice 1/2 of a red bell pepper.|
|Mince 1 garlic clove.|
|Finely chop a small handful of fresh dill.|
|Add 1 Tablespoon of drained capers.|
|Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl with the roasted and mostly cooled potatoes and cauliflower.|
|Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients.|
|Pour the dressing over the salad and thoroughly mix. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Roasted American Potato Salad
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 10 medium red potatoes, diced into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cauliflower stalks, peeled and diced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Roasted potatoes and cauliflower
- 6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 2 medium radishes, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 Tablespoons drained capers
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
InstructionsFor the roasted potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 425℉
- Combine the diced potatoes and cauliflower in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle the potatoes with garlic powder, smoked paprika, kosher salt and cracked black pepper; toss together, then spread out the potatoes and cauliflower on a half-sheet pan
- Roast the potatoes and cauliflower for 25-30 minutes until a fork can easily pierce and slide out of the potato chunks; cool the potatoes until just warmer than room temperature
- In a large bowl, combine the barely-warm potatoes and cauliflower with the eggs, celery, bell pepper, onion, radishes, garlic, capers and dill
- For the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, mustards, lemon juice, salt and pepper; pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly
- Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving
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Hungry for Tips?
- Roasting: To ensure the potatoes are perfectly roasted, check the done-ness during the last 10 minutes of roasting. A fork should be able to easily pierce the potato chunks and slide out easily. If you do not roast long enough, the potatoes won't absorb the dressing. And if you roast too long, the potatoes will fall apart when you mix the salad.
- Hot Potato: The potatoes should be slightly warm when you add them to the salad - this helps the potatoes to better absorb the dressing. But don't add hot potatoes to the salad or you will break the dressing and cook the other vegetables. If you plan to roast the potatoes in advance and store in the refrigerator, make sure to warm the potatoes gently before adding to the salad.
- Mustard: If you love mustard in your potato salad, you may want to add a little more prepared yellow mustard to the dressing. I prefer more of a balance between the mustard, mayonnaise and dill flavors so my proportion of mustards reflect this.
- Chill Time: Like most non-greens salads, potato salad tastes best after it has had a chance to chill - the potatoes absorb the dressing, the flavors really meld and somehow cold potato salad just tastes better than tepid or warm potato salad. So I recommend making this salad a day in advance.
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