I've always enjoyed growing a few veggies, but in the past have concentrated my efforts on tomatoes and other 'taste better from the garden' types. I thought potatoes were, well, just potatoes and would pretty much taste the same regardless. Then we bought a couple pounds of a new to us variety at the local farmer's market -- whoa, revelation! The next step was to try growing some in our own little plot. Since I had no experience with them, I went with a familiar variety for my first effort (Yukon Gold). They were nice, but now we were ready to take a step off the beaten path. This year's choice? Carola, a beige-skinned, yellow fleshed German potato, and Cranberry Red, which has deep red skin and rosy pink flesh. M-m-m-m, good -- and pretty, too. I'm thinking next year we need to try one of the cool, purple-y blue varieties -- lavender mashies, anyone?
Potatoes are one of the more versatile vegetables in our kitchen -- boiled, mashed, fried, oven roasted -- it's all good. One of my favorite ways to use them in the summer though, is a nice potato salad. And unless you are fortunate enough to live by a very good deli where they make their own, and by 'they' I mean it's made by a Southerner, or at least someone from the Mid-West, then it's something that's always better when homemade. There are a million ways to make it, but here's our 'everyday' version.
- 2 lb. potatoes, boiled in the skin
- chopped, red onion - about 1 small one
- 3/4 to 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
- a dollop of mustard
- a splash of cider vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- a tiny bit (maybe just a sprinkle) of cayenne pepper, if you're feeling adventurous
- some fresh, chopped dill is always welcome
Put your (whole, unpeeled) potatoes in a pan with plenty of room, start them with cold water and some salt, and boil 'til they are done. I start testing for doneness at around 14 minutes of cooking if they are good sized, sooner if they are smaller potatoes.
While they're cooking, get the dressing ready. Combine the mayonnaise with the chopped onions and other ingredients and mix well. What kind of mustard? Plain old yellow works well, but if you like Dijon...You'll notice the amounts are quite flexible -- I season to taste for this, but if you need your hand held, then a dollop will be 'about' a level tablespoon, and a splash will be about a tablespoon too. I like to use cider vinegar, but I suppose you could get all 'fancy pants' and use a wine vinegar instead -- your choice. I love it with fresh dill, but sometimes you just don't have any on hand -- add it when you do, but forget about using dried -- it just doesn't cut it.
When the potatoes are done, drain them and let cool until they are comfortable to handle. If you're using young, 'new' potatoes, or a variety with a thin skin, go ahead and leave the skin on -- extra fiber. Of course, you can also remove the skin now if you prefer. Cut them into nice, bite-sized pieces (not too small now!) and gently toss them with the dressing, until all the pieces are nicely coated. Refrigerate.
This is one of those things that is even tastier the second day -- so, try to make it a day ahead, but if you don't, make sure it has a good few hours in the refrigerator to give the flavor time to meld. Serve, and enjoy!