Friday, July 10, 2009

My Sister's Potato Salad

[Potato flowers photo by Keith Weller for the Agricultural Research Service]

My sister Megan (she of the home seltzer machine) does not cook. It's not that she doesn't have the palate, because she does, it's that she doesn't have the patience. This, in fact, is the reason that I have always loved her potato salad.

When Megan cuts the potatoes for her potato salad, she does not have the patience to cut them into even little cubes. She cuts them kind of helter-skelter--whatever gets the job done fastest. As a result, when the potatoes cook, some pieces get mushy before the other pieces cook through. The happy by-product of this is that the mushy potatoes blend in with the dressing and make the salad seem extra creamy.

I have made my potato salad this way ever since (Megan, are you grinning?). Of course being the somewhat more methodical cook, I actually use a small baking potato cut small to do the job.

My Sister's Potato Salad
The baking potato is purposely cut smaller so that it will fall apart while the red potatoes stay firm. This contributes a pleasing thickness to the dressing, giving you the sense that you're eating a sinfully rich potato salad. Other health tweaks: no mayonnaise, fewer hard-boiled eggs than a typical potato salad, and green pepper replaces the typical celery for the same crunch but more nutrients.

2 pounds red potatoes, UNpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small (5 ounces) baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 large eggs, hard-boiled
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely minced Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 green bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the red potatoes, baking potato and garlic until the red potatoes are fork-tender (but not falling apart), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the hot potatoes.
2. Meanwhile, peel and halve the eggs. Transfer two of the yolks to a small bowl and discard the remaining yolk. Coarsely chop the whites and add to the bowl of potatoes.
3. Mash the egg yolks well with a fork. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice until smooth. Whisk in the mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil.
4. Add the onion, bell pepper and egg dressing to the potatoes and toss well. Stir to force the little pieces of baking potato to break down and become a part of the dressing. Add the parsley, if using, and toss.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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