6 Must-Try Twists On The Classic Potato Salad

Along with its good pal pasta salad, potato salad counts among the most common side dishes found at outdoor picnics and BBQs throughout the United States. The “classic” versions (i.e. the ones that you can easily find pre-made at grocery stores and delis) usually consist of potatoes, a few different types of chopped vegetables, and a LOT of mayonnaise. These potato salads are popular for a reason … but we often find ourselves wondering if a few simple adjustments (or even a complete recipe overhaul) might lead to a more satisfying and flavorful barbecue accoutrement. To address this matter, we turned to a group of 6 professional chefs and entertainment experts, and they provided us with a collection of clever potato salad recipes that we can’t wait to make this summer. 

Assorted Fingerling Potato Salad

(By Darryl Harmon, executive chef, Clinton Hall, New York City)

Assorted Fingerling Potato Salad

Most potato salads utilize chopped Yukon Gold or red potatoes as their base, but Chef Darryl Harmon prefers fingerling potatoes, which he says “have a great eye appeal for presentation, and [they] taste great” in the context of a salad. His recipe, which he especially likes to pair with grilled salmon, includes Duke’s mayonnaise and whole-grain mustard, resulting in a bright side dish with plenty of tang.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes, assorted
  • 1 oz whole grain mustard
  • 3 oz mayonnaise (Harmon prefers Duke’s)
  • 1 oz honey 
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Boil assorted fingerling potatoes until tender. Let potatoes cool. 
  2. Put cooled potatoes in a large bowl and add grain mustard, mayo, honey, thyme, and tarragon. Season with salt & pepper and mix to combine.

Haricots Verts & New Potato Salad

(By Monte Farber, Amy Zerner, and John Okas, authors of Signs & Seasons

Assorted Fingerling Potato Salad

Considering all of the tumult of the year 2020, a potato salad recipe with cosmic benefits can’t hurt, right? Astrology expert Monte Farber, artist Amy Zerner, and chef John Okas believe that there’s a lot of overlap between food (especially foods grown in the ground) and the spiritual plane, and they developed their cookbook to reflect this symbiotic relationship. They tell us the following about their potato salad recipe: “This composed potato salad is a fresh and lively side dish at a summer barbecue, a wonderful, Mother Earth-bound salad, with plenty of green, and flavored with sweet, salty, spicy, rosemary-scented almonds and sun-dried tomatoes. Earth signs like Virgo thrive on contact with the earth. Potatoes are good for that. All veggies grown underground are ruled by Virgo, most of which are also harvested around September. Haricots verts are French string beans, longer, thinner and crisper than their American cousins.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb haricots verts (French beans), ends removed, cut in half 
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 lb multicolored Peruvian baby Yukon Gold potatoes 
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 20 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 12 scallions, trimmed 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup roasted almonds*
  • Tomato-lemon dressing, to taste*

Method:

  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil and cook the beans until crisp/tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon or skimmer into an ice bath. When they are cool, drain, and set aside.
  2. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths, leaving the tips intact. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Blanch for a minute or so and remove into the ice bath. 
  3. If using cocktail potatoes, wash them, cut them in half and boil them whole for about 6 minutes, or until they are cooked through. If using larger Yukon Golds, peel the potatoes and cut them into julienne pieces, matchsticks to match the green beans. Place them into the boiling water and cook them until they are tender, about 4 minutes. In either case, set the potatoes to drain in a separate colander. When they cool, toss with some Dijon mustard and set aside.
  4. When ready to assemble the salad, mix the beans, asparagus, and potatoes in a large bowl. Trim the scallions, cut them lengthwise, and cut each half into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the beans and potatoes. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into thin matchsticks and mix them in. Add some black pepper and toss well. 
  5. Toss the bean and potato mixture with half the dressing, gently mixing, adding more a little at a time, until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Top with the toasted almonds and serve.

*Toasted Almonds:

  1. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1 cup of blanched, slivered almonds on a ridged baking sheet and put them in the oven until they are slightly browned, about 10 – 12 minutes. Shake the pan often to brown evenly.
  2. While the nuts are roasting, combine 2 teaspoons of olive oil with 1 tsp finely-chopped fresh rosemary, .5 clove finely-minced garlic, .25 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp brown sugar, and .5 tsp onion or celery salt in a mixing bowl. When the nuts are hot from the oven, toss them with this mixture, distributing it evenly and thoroughly. 

*Tomato-Lemon Dressing:

  1. Add 2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 tbsps lemon-oil dressing (lemon juice and olive oil whisked together) to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Duck Fat Truffle Potato Salad

(By Carlette Langley, owner and chef, Events By Carlette, Temple Hills, Maryland)

At its essence, potato salad is a humble dish … but with the right ingredients, you can transform this simple side into a luxe treat. Chef and events specialist Carlette Langley zhuzhes up her potato salad with rich duck fat and fragrant truffle oil, resulting in a very uptown twist on a backyard-party staple. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
  • .5 cup duck fat, divided
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • .5 cup chopped celery 
  • .5 cup chopped red onion
  • Dijon vinaigrette*
  • Truffle oil, to taste (about 1.5 tbsp)
  • Blue cheese crumbles, to taste

Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Spread the drained potatoes onto a baking sheet and add the duck fat. Roast the potatoes in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until browned, turning every 15 minutes.
  3. For the last 15 minutes of the roasting time, add rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves to the pan.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the pan, and while they’re still warm, drizzle the truffle oil over them and toss to distribute. Allow potatoes to cool.
  5. Put the cooled potatoes in a large bowl and add celery, red onion, and Dijon vinaigrette. Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper, and top with blue cheese crumbles.

*Dijon Vinaigrette:

  1. Mince the garlic cloves that were roasted with the potatoes until you have 1 tbsp worth.
  2. Add the minced cloves, ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsps Dijon mustard, 2 tbsps red wine vinegar, 2 tbsps lemon juice, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsps drained and minced capers, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, ¼ tsp kosher salt, and ⅛ tsp black pepper to a bowl and whisk to combine. 

Sabiched Potato Salad

(By Mica Talmor, chef/owner, Pomella, Oakland, California) 

For her potato salad recipe, Chef Mica Talmor draws flavor inspiration from an Israeli specialty known as sabich. “Sabich is an Israeli sandwich created by Iraqi immigrants. It started as Shabbat food, spread to street stalls, and is now commonplace in Israeli eateries and abroad. The not-so-secret sauce that makes this sandwich is amba, a condiment made of pickled mango, resembling mango chutney. At Pomella, we make our own amba using our house-made pickled mango, but you can use store-bought [in this salad],” Talmor explains.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb creamer potatoes, new potatoes or baby Yukon potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, diced small (you can swap in jalapeno if you like it hotter or bell pepper if you don’t like it hot at all)
  • .5 red onion, small diced
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (you can use soft-boiled eggs if you prefer a jammy yolk)
  • .5 bunch cilantro
  • 1 eggplant, partially peeled (zebra style), sliced ½” thick
  • Amba vinaigrette*

Method:

  1. Add the potatoes to a pot of cold water with a teaspoon of salt. Boil until tender.
  2. Toss eggplant in salt and let sweat, then squeeze the moisture out. Toss eggplant in olive oil and roast at 375 degrees F until golden and tender. Cut the roasted slices into quarters.  
  3. Dice eggs into large pieces. Clip or chop the cilantro. Make the amba dressing mixture (instructions below).
  4. When the potatoes are done cooking, drain and toss in the dressing mixture right away so they absorb the flavor. 
  5. Mix the seasoned potatoes, eggplant, eggs and cilantro together in a serving bowl. Both the potatoes and eggplant soak up acid and salt, so be generous with the dressing. If making a day ahead, taste before serving and adjust the flavor as necessary. 

*Amba Dressing:

  1. In a blender, mix .5 cup amba, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, .25 cup olive oil, and 2 tsp salt until silky smooth. Adjust with more vinegar or salt, depending on the brand of amba you’re using. You’re looking for a sweet and sour flavor. 
  2. Add the amba dressing to a bowl with diced pepper and onion. Stir to combine.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad

(By Jennifer Hill Booker, chef/owner, Your Resident Gourmet, Atlanta)

The hearty texture and the gentle sweetness of sweet potatoes make them an appealing alternative to the more neutral taters typically used for potato salads, and Chef Jennifer Hill Booker considers sweet potatoes an ideal canvas for bright Caribbean-inspired flavors. “Sweet potatoes, crisp cucumbers and tart lime gives a tasty twist to your everyday potato salad,” she says of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp salt (for the salad) and 1 tbsp salt (for boiling the potatoes)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • .25 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium seedless cucumber, diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (about .5 cup)

Method:

  1. Place the russet potatoes into a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches. Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are boiling, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes to the saucepan of russet potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Be careful not to overcook.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Meanwhile, fill the saucepan with cold water. Add the drained potatoes to the saucepan and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the potatoes back into the colander to drain, then place the colander of potatoes on a plate to catch any remaining water. Set aside.
  4. Put salt, pepper, mustard, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic into a large mixing bowl, then slowly whisk in the oil. 
  5. Add potatoes to the mixing bowl and stir to coat with dressing. Add cucumber and red onion and mix until just combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

NOLA Grilled Potato Salad

(By David Guas, chef/owner, Bayou Bakery, Arlington, Virginia)

If you’re making a potato salad to serve alongside barbecue fare, then it stands to reason that a bit of grilled char on your potatoes will help maintain the theme. Chef David Guas, a New Orleans native, channels his heritage by seasoning his grilled potato salad with classic (and mega-flavorful) NOLA ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs small red potatoes, skin on (approx. 20-22)
  • 1 cup water 
  • .25 cup mayonnaise (Guas prefers Duke’s Mayonnaise)]
  • 1 tbsp Creole mustard (Guas prefers Zatarain’s)
  • .5 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup horseradish
  • .25 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce (Guas prefers Crystal)

Method:

  1. Cut red potatoes in half. Split into two groups and wrap each with aluminum foil like a little purse. Before closing the parcels, pour a half a cup of water in each foil package.
  2. Place the parcels just off to the sides of the coals in the belly of the grill. Roast directly in the coals for about an hour or until fork tender. When ready, remove from heat and let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes to cool slightly.
  3.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, horseradish, black pepper, and hot sauce. Add cooled/cut potatoes to the mix. Wearing gloves, use your hands to mash about a one-third of the salad, or use the back of a wooden spoon to mash. Serve at room temperature.

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