Lots of Potato Salads

Blog-checking lines: Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

{oh dear. we're having a bit of a technological crisis at the Leaven household this morning, as Mr Leaven has discovered that the thousands of photos he imported from his iPhone were not, after all, imported and have disappeared entirely. It is quite a loss, and I feel awful for him. Also, there will be almost no photos in this post and definitely no patatas bravas shots. Instead, in commemoration of Father's Day, I will give you this amazing photograph of my dad.}

As soon as I read this month's Daring Cooks' Challenge to Mr Leaven, he began listing all the potato salads we would have to try. He was chomping at the bit to chop up those potatoes and toss them with just about anything he could think of. It's funny, because I wasn't feeling quite so inspired. I don't think I've ever eaten a potato salad, partly because most of them are dripping with mayonnaise, which isn't my favorite. Just as importantly, that mayo is very good at hiding whatever other dangers may be lurking in the potato salad - raw onion? yecch. celery? no thank you. raisins? heaven forbid! That's when I started to get excited myself about the prospect of making my very own potato salad, with whatever the heck I wanted to put in it. Plus, homemade mayonnaise that doesn't have that right-off-the-shelf taste! Or I could make a vinegar-based potato salad, with no mayo at all!

So we pulled out our potatoes and got to work. This month, we've prepared 2 vinegar-based warm potato salads, 2 mayo-based cold potato salads, and 2 versions of patatas bravas (potatoes with aioli or other sauce, so I think it counts!).

Now, life's been a little hectic recently, and I have been lax (no surprises here) in annotating the recipes I used or made up. I do know the source for the vinegar-based potato salads, which was a recipe that the amazing Audax Artifex posted in the Daring Cooks' forum. I am a sucker for anything with sweet and tangy elements, and the first potato salad I was considering was pretty similar to this recipe. I'm posting the recipe with the modifications I made. I really wanted to roast the potatoes for my attempts, as I thought that would bring out more flavor. I think that worked well in this recipe. The first time I added some very crispy onions we'd fried up from the spring onions in our backyard. The second time I added homemade bacon bits we keep on reserve in the fridge. Each was good. Both would be better.

Fruity Potato Salad
3 lbs new potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
Other vegetables, like beets or zucchini or carrots, cubed {optional}
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
2½ tablespoons fruit preserve (I used dewberry compote the first time and grape jam the second)
2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2½ tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals OR 1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp bacon bits (optional)
1 Tbsp crispy onions (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450F.

Spread the potato cubes and other veggies, if using, in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until fork-tender. Set aside and keep hot.

In a small bowl mix the fruit preserve and the balsamic vinegar, then slowly add the olive oil while whisking vigorously until combined (or use a blender if desired). Check for the balance of sweet/sour and add a little more conserve or vinegar as needed.

Add the dressing to the potatoes to coat gently. Wait for the dressing to be absorbed and cool.

Add the chopped herbs and bacon bits, sprinkle with the salt crystals and serve.

ooh, that really doesn't look so beautiful. and it looks astonishingly like a fruit salad, not potatoes-beets-summer squash, right? A fruity potato salad, you might even say!

For one of the mayo-based recipes, we roasted the potatoes along with other veggies we had in the fridge - beets and green beans, I think, with some rosemary sprigs. We boiled an egg and added that, as well as about 1/4 cup of corn (we just used canned corn, drained, because we were too lazy to cook the corn-on-the-cob and we had some other plans for those cobs anyway). There were more bacon bits too. I made some aioli as the mayo dressing. Oh, I don't know - there were other ingredients too. My head hurts. The whole thing mixed together was really good.

The other mayo-based recipe had fewer ingredients, just potatoes and dill with a mayonnaise-mustard-lemon juice dressing. I think. Grr.

I do have a recipe for the patatas bravas! We're still working on a good patatas bravas receta. We enjoyed them in Spain (until about day 5, when we were a bit sick of them) and would like to recreate our favorites, which were the first we tried in Madrid. Many of the patatas bravas you get in Spain (or here) are pretty much french fries (cubed instead) with a mayonnaise sauce (allioli) and paprika. Both of us really love the potatoes to be coated in a spicy tomato-y sauce but it's been hard to find a good recipe for that. We tried a few, one that fits into that first 'french fries with paprika and mayo' category but people raved about online. It was good french fries with paprika and mayo. The allioli was good, particularly in the chicken salad I made the next day (will post later). The other formulation has more potential, but the sauce was way, way too watery. I'll have to play around with it a bit, then I'll share the recipe.

Patatas Bravas

2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1- to 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Kosher salt
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
3 medium cloves garlic, grated on a microplane (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil for frying
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 quarts water. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and 2 teaspoons water in bowl of food processor. Run processor until homogenous, about 5 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. With processor running, slowly add canola oil in thin, steady stream, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. Sauce should thicken and come together. Transfer sauce to a large bowl set in a heavy pot lined with a towel. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and black pepper. Set aside.
Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick or cast iron straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat to 350°F. Add potatoes in single layer and cook, shaking the pan and flipping the potatoes with a spatula or tongs occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using slotted spoon or wire-mesh spider, transfer potatoes to bowl lined with paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pile potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with allioli, sprinkle with paprika and scallions, and serve, passing extra allioli tableside. Extra allioli will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 week

For some sample potato salad recipes and lots of information on different potato salads, here's the pdf from Daring Kitchen. And if you want to look at all the great potato salads everyone at DK came up with, follow this link!


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