Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Secrets to a Great Potato Salad

July 3rd, 2012 | Posted in: Cooking, Recipes

Cold potato salad is perfect for summer picnics and cook-outs. But sometimes, someone’s potato salad misses the mark — mushy, flavorless, or maybe just too traditional. Here are a few tips to help you serve a better Wisconsin potato salad every time.

Pick the perfect potato.

Not every potato is a great salad potato. Yukon golds, red potatoes and white potatoes (not Russets) are best for making potato salad. If you leave the skins on, you not only add color to your salad but add more texture and nutrients to the mix.

Preparing the potatoes.

If you dice the potatoes into bite-size pieces, they will get tender faster (about 10-15 minutes). Poke the potatoes with a fork to see if they’re tender — don’t overdo it because potatoes continue to cook a few minutes after you’ve drained them. When the potatoes are tender, drain them.

To cool the potatoes, pour them onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Did you know that potatoes are most absorbent when they’re warm? Now’s the time to flavor them with herbs and/or vinegar, before they cool.  Transfer the taters to the refrigerator after they’ve stopped steaming.

Mix it up.

Now’s the time to get your ingredients mixed, while the spuds are cooling. Don’t add mayonnaise to the potatoes until they have thoroughly cooled.

Get creative.

There’s more to cold potato salad than mayonnaise or vinegar. Consider using hot pepper sauce, paprika, cider vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice, and horseradish are a great start. If you’re a fan of mustard, experiment with the wide variety of mustards available — Dijon, spicy, coarse, yellow, etc.

Tired of flavorless cold potato salad? Try fresh herbs such as dill, chives, basil, thyme, tarragon, parsley, sage or rosemary.

Potatoes needn’t be the only veggie (or fruit) in the mix. Add peas, celery, red or sweet onion, green onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fennel, cucumbers, colored bell peppers, shallots, olives, capers, and chili peppers (if you like things hot).

Easy-to-crumble cheeses can provide nice texture and tang. Smoked cheddar, feta, bleu cheese and Gorgonzola are great places to start. Then add a little crunch with toasted seeds or nuts. Some of the best are sliced almonds, diced pecans, and sunflower seeds.

If you’d like to add a little meat to the matter, then cooked ham, bacon and prosciutto are great options. If you like seafood, try cooked shrimp. Chicken and steak (cooked, of course) also provide a great boost.

Looking for some inspiration? Try this Spanish Potato Salad recipe. It’s a great, non-traditional potato salad featuring bacon, black olives, apple, red onion and white wine vinegar combined with olive oil.

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