The quintessential summer meal in America must include a potato salad. No barbeque or picnic would be complete without this comfort food! There are as many versions of potato salad as there are varieties of the potato - would you believe over 5,000 with 3,000 originating in the Andes alone?
Soothing to the tongue and neutral in flavor, potatoes are a versatile starchy tuber that lend themselves to many interpretations and flavors. In Eastern Europe vinegar and oil are the preferred dressings over mayonnaise. This version has a little of each. Hot cooked new potatoes are first tossed in vinegar which allows their starch to absorb its acidity. The acidity is balanced by a thin coating of creamy mayonnaise, grainy Dijon mustard, crisp chopped red peppers and a few pungent scallions.
No peeling is necessary as this salad is made with new potatoes. Favorite daughter has a fit when she sees me peeling any variety of potato…and with good reason: much of the fiber and nutrients are housed in the potato peel which acts as a jacket to keep the nutrients inside the potato during the cooking process.
Unfortunately potatoes have received a bad rap since the emergence of low carbohydrate diets. I have recently discovered that they have enormous nutritional value and are considered by many to be one of mother nature’s whole foods. Yes, they are high in carbohydrates (21% of the recommended daily allowance - RDA), but of that percentage 26% is beneficial fiber.
Vitamins galore! Potatoes contain a variety of important vitamins and high amounts in several. Vitamin C has 48%of the RDA! Vitamin B6 46%! Niacin and Folate 21% each, Thiamin 13%, and many more. Now let’s talk minerals: Potassium 46%, Manganese 33%, Magnesium and Phosphorus 21% each, and Iron and copper 18% each. It contains no fat and because it’s a vegetable it has no cholesterol either. One portion size is 1/3 lb or one medium potato. Enjoy your potatoes so that your body can reap the benefits!
Potato Salad with red pepper and mustard vinaigrette, adapted from Gourmet Magazine, June 2002
Makes 8 - 10 servings
4 lb fingerling or new potatoes, skin left on
½ cup diced red bell pepper
2 scallions (green onions), finely sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup walnut vinegar or white-wine vinegar, divided
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
¼ cup coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cover potatoes with salted cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool slightly.
Whisk together sugar and 6 tablespoons vinegar in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved.
When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, peel and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices if using fingerlings or cut in half if using new potatoes. Add potatoes to vinegar mixture and toss gently to combine. Add diced red pepper and scallions.
Whisk together shallot, mustard, vegetable oil, mayonnaise and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar in a small bowl. Add dressing to potatoes, then season with salt and pepper and stir gently with a rubber spatula.
Serve immediately at room temperature or chill if serving later.