Purple Potato Salad: Just Because!

Purple potato salad!

Purple potato salad!

20150506_105900With weather warming up, it’ll soon be time for picnics, potlucks, and cookouts. If you want to really surprise people, make purple (actually more like lavender once it’s made up) potato salad! This is the same as my potato salad recipe, but since I’ve found purple potatoes in the store lately, I couldn’t resist using them to make up potato salad. It tastes just like my potato salad recipe, but such color! (I used new potatoes of the same or similar variety for Roasted New Potatoes Mediterranean Style.)

I cooked the potatoes the day before I made it up…and served it the day after that. Because I didn’t cook the potatoes at the same time as making it up, I left the green onion raw, rather than steaming it under the potatoes. Other than that, it’s the same as my usual recipe (click through above). I cooked the potatoes whole, with skins on (I’m lazy). They’re not much to look at until you cut into them! The dressing subdues the color quite a bit, but still, this is color is irresistable.

The color of the potatoes was so striking that I couldn’t resist snapping pics as I added in ingredients. This is the most fun I’ve ever had making potato salad. Impossible not to grin while mixing this up!

Green onions & celery brighten it even more

Green onions & celery brighten it even more

 

Add pimentos and the color really pops!

Add pimentos and the color really pops!

Like the bright colors? This will go well with my Frankenslaw!

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Roasted New Potatoes, Mediterranean Style

I spotted an assortment of new potatoes in the store: red, white and…blue? Well, the third variety (and of course, they weren’t named) had a dark skin and though I’ve read about purple potato varieties in gardening magazines and catalogs I hadn’t actually eaten any. The assortment was lovely. In the future, however, I think I will choose a less dark way of preparing any dark/blue/purple type of potato because it sort of blended with the rest of the ingredients. On the other hand…once they are sliced in half the blue/purple potatoes have a strikingly lovely color that went all the way through. I want to look for more of these potatoes (or maybe grow my own). (Imagine what potato salad would look like!)

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Lovely spring color! Yummy, too!

This recipe a yummy way of cooking potatoes. If you don’t have new potatoes (though there should be plenty of small potatoes in stores and markets at this time of year) you can also do this with larger red or white (or purple) potatoes: just cut them into halves or quarters.

Cooking time on this is a bit variable, not just depending on your stove, but also depending on the size of the potatoes. I’ve seen some “new” potatoes that were pretty big for small potatoes, but on the other hand, in this assortment pictured here the potatoes were the smallest new potatoes I’ve seen. I bake these for an hour at 350. You can probably go less, depending on the size of the potatoes or potato pieces. They’re done when you can easily stick a fork in them.

You can use canned mushrooms in this, but fresh is sooooo much better. Canned mushrooms are for when you forget to buy fresh and otherwise have all the ingredients on hand. If using canned mushrooms, don’t saute them, just stir them in with the olives.

This smells amazing: olive oil, mushrooms, garlic and rosemary. Really, the potatoes are just an excuse to blend all these wonderful things together. Prep doesn’t take much time. This recipe is easy and can be made easily with no fuss or hassle.

1 lb white button mushrooms
1 med onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic (depending on size of cloves & how much you like garlic), minced or run through garlic press
Olive oil
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes
2 Tbls rosemary
3-4 oz sliced black olives, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven 350.

Wash and drain potatoes. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Coarsely slice mushrooms. Saute mushrooms in a small amount of olive oil until they start to turn color and make their own juice. Add chopped onion and garlic. Let simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, while you mix up the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, drizzle 4 Tbls olive oil over new potatoes. Sprinkle in 2 Tbls dried rosemary. Toss to coat. Add the rinsed and well drained black olives. Stir. By now the mushrooms and onions have cooked down a bit and have created a bit of yummy smelling broth. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl with the potatoes and stir well.

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Red, white, and purple potatoes, before they go into the oven.

Then transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking dish and bake uncovered at 350, uncovered, for 1 hour…or less depending on your oven and the size of the potatoes. They’re done when they’re tender.

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Hot out of the oven! Some potatoes were so small I probably could’ve cooked it for less time.

These make yummy left-overs…except that I’ve rarely had any left! It can work as a make-ahead dish which is then reheated in the microwave.

Potato Salad

Homemade potato salad.

Some years ago I decided that I was going experiment until I had good recipes for “the big 3” side dishes for summer cookouts. I’d already worked out a good vegetarian BBQ Baked Beans recipe, which was much requested, but I and everyone I knew still relied on store-bought containers of cole slaw and potato salad. I’m a big fan of both, particularly potato salad. Once I’d perfected my Frankenslaw so that it was requested as much as the beans, I knew it was time to tackle potato salad. I was a bit daunted by this because I’ve tasted literally hundreds of different kinds of potato salad over the years, at restaurants, from stores and on rare occasions homemade. Potato salad recipes are a bit like Hamlet: there are as many different versions as there are people doing it!

I’ve experimented and tweaked ingredients and amount until I’m satisfied with this recipe. It’s not terribly innovative and has no wildly exotic ingredients, but it makes a good tasty potato salad. This is best made up a day ahead of time and chilled overnight or longer. The flavor improves with longer chilling.

5 lbs medium-size red potatoes
bunch of green onion (6 stalks)
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 Tbls yellow mustard
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/4 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
4 oz jar of pimentos, drained
3 tsp dried dill

Wash potatoes thoroughly to remove grit and dirt, remove eyes and bad places, but don’t peel — unless you want to. Some people prefer potato salad made with peeled potatoes. I like potato skins and I don’t like peeling potatoes, so I made the natural choice for me. 😉

You can either boil the potatoes whole or cut them into halves or quarters before boiling. (I usually half or quarter them.) Boil potatoes until done, that is, tender when pierced with a fork through the center. While potatoes are cooking, dice celery finely and set aside. Snip green onion into small rounds with kitchen shears. Place the green onions in the bowl you’ll be using for the potato salad.

I prefer a large ceramic container because the mixture is slightly acidic and that’s not a good combination with metal. On the other hand, if you’re taking this to a cookout, picnic, party, or cookout, a big aluminum pan is probably the practical choice. This makes a ton of potato salad (figuratively speaking). I have a 6 qt crockpot and use removable ceramic dish for this recipe.

When potatoes are done and still hot, drain them, then dump them over the green onions in the bowl. Let sit a minute or so. This wilts and steams the green onion. (If you prefer raw onion in your potato salad, skip that and add the green onion with the rest of the ingredients after the potatoes have cooled.)

Stir potatoes and wilted green onions. Then I use a long knife to slice through and through the potatoes until the pieces are smaller. (If you don’t get all the pieces cut small enough on this first pass, don’t worry about it: you’ll get another shot at it when you mix everything in.) The reason I do it this way is that if you cut up the hot potatoes (or let them cool then cut them up) they aren’t hot enough to steam and wilt the green onion. If you prefer the onion raw and cold, go ahead and cool the potatoes before you cut them up.

Let the potatoes and green onion cool completely. When the potatoes are room temp (or you can cover them and cool them off in the fridge) stir in all the other ingredients, until all is thoroughly mixed together and the potatoes are somewhat mushy from the stirring. If the consistency or size of the pieces doesn’t look quite right, run the knife through the whole mess again several times and stir some more.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, overnight is best. Flavor will improve with time and chilling.

The potato salad will dry out in the fridge unless you have a very tight-fitting lid (which I don’t) or perhaps the potatoes soak up some of the moisture. Whatever the cause, you may need to add a bit more yogurt and mayo. If you like your potato salad wetter or mushier, add a little bit more of either mayo and yogurt — a spoonful at a time — until you reach the consistency you like. It doesn’t take much to make it wetter, especially as the potatoes disintegrate with stirring. Bear in mind that yogurt makes it tangier. Give it a taste test before deciding on adding yogurt, mayo or both. This is the point to tweak the texture and consistency to suit yourself. If you think it’s got the right amount of dressing but want it mushier, just continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the potatoes disintegrate more and combine with the dressing.

Potatoes with Curry

curry potatoes

Seeing as it is still snowstorm weather where I am, I decided to share a recipe for one of my favourite comfort foods.  This recipe is completely eyeballed, so I’m afraid I don’t have any measurements to share.

I prefer to make these potatoes with mini potatoes but, of course, it’s up to you the kind and size of potato you want to use.  I usually buy them at Costco; the bag is branded The Little Potato Company (5lb variety pack).  I cook half the amount at one go.  After washing the potatoes, drop them right in boiling water – no peeling and no salt – and boil for about 20 minutes.  When cooked, put them in a colander and leave them to cool for the rest of the day.  They are also really good if you leave them in the fridge overnight to use the next day.

Next, cut the potatoes in half and put them in a heated wok with olive oil.  As they start to warm, start adding the spices.  At this stage, it usually comes down to what’s in the pantry.  Herbamare, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste are standard ingredients.  There is probably a cup or more of nutritional yeast added at this stage.  If you are not familiar with nutritional yeast, you can generally find it in the health food aisle of any supermarket.  It’s loaded with B12 and has a taste often described as nutty or cheesy.

Make a small crater in the centre of the wok by pushing the potatoes to the sides.  Add some water and curry.  My preference is mild curry in block form where I can shave off how much I want to use.  The block curry also makes it easier to control the level of curry flavouring in the dish.  Mix the curry and water together until it is pasty and then stir the potatoes back in the centre of the wok.

The combination of nutritional yeast, the water, and the curry should make a nice sauce to cover the potatoes evenly.  You may need to play with the proportions until this happens.

This recipe is nice eaten by itself, but it is also nice as a side dish.  Fresh stir-fried vegetables or braised greens are quite nice when mixed in the wok with the potato curry.