- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Potato salad is one of those dishes for which every cook claims to possess the perfect recipe. Nowhere was this more evident than at a national potato salad contest I judged last summer. Every entrant claimed to have the best. After sampling more varieties than I care to remember, I came to the obvious conclusion that taste truly is a matter of personal opinion.

I couldn’t enter my potato salad, but I still think it “coulda been a contender.” It has all the components of classic American potato salad with a little pizazz. What’s my secret ingredient? Celery seed.

My version is creamy and mustardy and even has chopped hard-cooked eggs. You can kick up the flavor by substituting chopped red onion or even pickle relish for the scallions listed. Feel free to lighten it up by using light sour cream and mayonnaise. Make sure the salad stays chilled at all times to avoid any health problems.

I prefer scrubbed, unpeeled potatoes for potato salad because they add color and texture … not to mention that not peeling saves time. Red or white waxy potatoes (sometimes called Red or White Rose), Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold with their distinctive yellow color and somewhat moist consistency or Peruvian Blue all work well. If you prefer a crumbly texture, use russet potatoes. Select potatoes that are uniform in size so they will cook evenly and not become waterlogged.

If you’re going to celebrate the Memorial Day kickoff to summer, why not whip up a quick batch and serve it alongside cold roast chicken and a simple corn salad? The corn salad can be a simple mix of fresh corn kernels and cut-up red and yellow tomatoes dressed lightly with a chive vinaigrette. Pick up some store-bought brownies or chocolate chip cookies to round out the meal, and you will have a wonderful early summer menu.

Help is on the way: Peeling can be a real time burner. Here are a few other ingredients that are fine unpeeled: European cucumber, fresh ginger, thin asparagus and Japanese eggplant. Just make sure to wash them well.

Picnic potato salad

Water

3 pounds medium red, Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes

DRESSING:

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 celery stalks, finely diced

2 tablespoons chopped scallion

2 teaspoons celery seed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon Coleman’s dried mustard

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Parsley sprigs, for garnish

In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes for 30 minutes, or until tender but slightly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool. Do not peel. When cool, cut into 1½-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, celery, scallion, celery seed, parsley, chopped egg, dried mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Pour dressing over potatoes and mix gently until coated. Taste for seasoning.

Refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours, or make up to 8 hours ahead.

To serve, transfer to a transportable serving bowl with a lid (if taking on a picnic) or a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve cold. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks. To contact her, go to www.seriouslysimple.com.

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