Hot dogs and hamburgers, steak and chicken, shrimp and short ribs. They’re all right at home with a side of potato salad.
“It is the quintessential backyard picnic or barbecue food,” said Meredith Myers, a spokeswoman for the United States Potato Board in Denver, Colo. “If you’ve got a grill going, you’ve got potato salad. Potato salad season goes from about the beginning of May into September. This is the high time for potato salad.”
With Father’s Day, high school graduation parties, Fourth of July celebrations and summer vacations all coming up, people will be using their high time to slice and dice potatoes, onions, celery and peppers and mix them with mayonnaise and vinaigrettes for cool tastes. Myers said people should try different flavors when they’re making their potato plans.
“I look at potato salad like I look at potatoes in general — as a blank canvas,” she said. “You can do just about anything with a potato salad. Some of the things we’re encouraging consumers to do is experiment with different potato types. You may have your traditional potato salad that Mom used to make and the one that’s got mayonnaise and sour cream, kind of like the standard potato salad.”
Greek yogurt can be used instead of mayo, Myers said, to give potato salad a healthier profile. “There are other ways to make it less fattening, that would be using a reduced-calories mayonnaise or going with the vinaigrette dressing as opposed to that creamy mayonnaise,” she added.
Different potatoes mean different tastes. “Red potatoes are waxier, with a higher sugar content,” Myers said. “Red potatoes also have a slightly sweet flavor to them. A russet has a higher starch content, it’s a little fluffier of a potato but it’s got a lower sugar content so it doesn’t have that sweet a taste.”
Imagination can also be part of the ingredient list. Chives, eggs, jalapeño peppers and pickles can all be part of the supporting cast in a potato salad.
“We’re seeing some incredible things,” Myers said. “You’ve got potato and artichoke salad, and people are experimenting more with spices, like curry and basil. One of our greatest potato salads is a Mediterranean potato salad where you’re using cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and Greek yogurt. You’ve got this great Mediterranean flavor, but it’s definitely picnic-worthy.”
Recipes are courtesy of the United States Potato Board.
Quick and Healthy Greek Potato Salad
1 1⁄2 pounds potatoes (Russet, red, yellow or white)
1 cup low-fat 2 percent Greek yogurt
1⁄3 cup minced red onion
1⁄4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1⁄4 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley
1⁄2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Chopped fresh oregano (optional)
Place whole potatoes (do not poke) into microwave-safe dish. Cover dish (if covering dish with plastic wrap, poke small hole in plastic). Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes depending on strength of microwave. Use oven mitts to remove dish from microwave; carefully remove cover from dish due to steam build-up and let cool.
Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl with remaining ingredients; stir well to mix. Sprinkle with cheese and oregano. This salad may be served right away, but is best if refrigerated for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.
Purple Potato Salad with Beets and Arugula
2 pounds purple potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
1 cup cooked, peeled and diced red beets
1⁄2 cup minced red onion
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula leaves
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
1⁄2 cup crumbled good quality Parmesan cheese
1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Steam for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Let cool, then cut into bite-size pieces. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss with potatoes, beets and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and chill for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, lightly toss arugula with potatoes. Sprinkle with walnuts and Parmesan.
Grilled Pesto Potato Salad
3 pounds medium-size red potatoes
Olive oil cooking spray
1⁄3 cup white or golden balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1⁄3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1⁄4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Place potatoes in a large microwave safe bowl; cover with lid or plastic wrap. Note: If using plastic wrap, make sure plastic wrap is not touching any ingredients and poke one small hole in cover to vent. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender (cooking time may vary depending on microwave). Use oven mitts to carefully remove from microwave.
When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half or quarters and spray liberally with olive oil spray. Grill over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally, until grill lines are apparent. Remove from grill and let cool. Cut into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt and garlic; pour over potatoes and toss lightly to coat. Season with pepper, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, toss with Parmesan cheese and basil, then sprinkle with pine nuts.
Blackened Blue Potato Salad
1 pound small purple potatoes
1 pound flat iron steak
1 tablespoon blackening spice
2 cups Vidalia onions, sliced
4 teaspoons garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1⁄2 pounds spinach, stemmed and washed
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled bleu cheese
Bleu cheese dressing (optional)
Simmer potatoes until tender, drain and cool. Cut potatoes in half. Brush cut sides with oil; grill over gas or charcoal until grill marks form. Coat steak with blackening spice. In large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil; sear steak on both sides to desired doneness. Remove steak from pan and let rest. Wipe out pan, heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add onions and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft, but not browned.
Add spinach and sauté just until spinach starts to wilt. Mound spinach on 4 plates, dividing it equally. Carve steak into thin slices; arrange on top of spinach. Top with potatoes and sprinkle with bleu cheese. Serve with bleu cheese dressing on the side, if desired.