It’s officially spring time in DC which is hands down the best time of the year in the district, in my opinion. Unfortunately it usually only lasts a few weeks before we move into what I like to call the Unbearable Swamp of Summer which lasts about 5 months. But these few weeks are really fantastic. Perfect temperatures, blue skies, and lots of barbecues!
I went to my first barbecue of spring a few weeks ago and decided to whip up a potato salad. For potato salads, I like to use red bliss potatoes or new potatoes so you can leave the skin on.
It’s a great salad for a hot day!
Some people have some really strong opinions about potato salad. Many hate mayonnaise. Some people dislike mustard. Some hate dill. My salad has all of those things in it so it might not be for you.
Have no fear though. The great thing about potato salad is that you can customize it to your liking on the fly. There’s really only one ingredient that’s essential: potatoes.
1) Scrub potatoes and cube them so they are roughly the same size. About 1/2 inch cubes is best.
2) Boil potatoes in salted water (1 Tbsp/gallon) until they are fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.
3) Drain potatoes and dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking.
4) Chop up all your other ingredients and herbs.
5) Stir everything together and whisk together your dressing in a separate bowl (mayo, yogurt, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper).
6) Mix dressing with salad and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Prepping the Potatoes
Ok. So most of this recipe, as with most salads I guess, just involves a lot of chopping. But the one thing you need cook is your potatoes.
Spend some time to make sure you scrub them all well and cube them into roughly the same size. That’ll make sure they cook evenly and also make the salad easier to eat since the potatoes will all be the same size.
Cooking the potatoes is maybe the only tricky thing about this recipe. Here’s the things to remember:
– Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water (1 Tablespoon kosher salt per gallon of water is a good start).
– Depending on the size of your potatoes, they’ll take somewhere from 8-10 minutes to become fork tender.
– You don’t want to overcook your potatoes. Mushy potatoes don’t make great potato salad. Just keep an eye on them and try one every few minutes.
– When you’re done cooking them, put them into salted ice water. This will shock them and stop the cooking. It’s a really important step. I do this by putting all my potatoes in a colander and then submerging the colander into a very large bowl of ice water. You could obviously just add the potatoes to ice water and drain them afterward if you don’t have this set up.
The other stuff
Besides the potatoes, you really just need to chop up a lot of stuff.
Earlier when I said that the only thing I think potato salad has to have is potatoes, I was kind of lying. I also think that potato salad has to have red onion in it. Everything else can be changed or substituted, but red onion is pretty important in my book. It gives a great bite to the finished salad.
Some people hate dill. Some people love it. You won’t be able to make everybody happy. Personally I love it and I was the one making the salad so I added it!
If you’re worried about the flavor of the dill, just go light on it. It can definitely overpower the salad if you use too much.
Yet another contentious issue involves the dressing for potato salad. Some people just don’t do mayonnaise and that’s fine. I’ve had potato salad with olive oil or honestly you might be able to just use all Greek yogurt if you’re looking for something creamy. For me though, mayonnaise is fantastic. I don’t eat it very often, but sometimes it really hits the spot.
I added spices to mine like mustard, cayenne, and some paprika. You could leave any of these out or adjust to your tastes. Mix up your dressing first and then add your potatoes. Make sure they are well coated.
Then just add in all your other chopped veggies and herbs and stir it up! Be sure to taste for salt and pepper at this point. Mine definitely needed a good pinch of both.
Ideally, you could make this a day before you need it. This salad only gets better after some time in the fridge. At a minimum I’d recommend 3 or 4 hours in the fridge, but the day before would be best honestly.
So there ya go. My potato salad which has basically every ingredient that people tend to have a problem with. What can I say… I like to start trouble.
What’s essential for a potato salad in your mind? Leave a comment!