Second Thoughts on Potato Salad

June 17, 2008

In both the cities I’ve lived in since growing up in Minnesota—Chicago and Washington, DC—I’ve been forced to grow accustomed to days that are an ungodly kind of hot. Days where the digital displays outside banks flash temperatures that begin with nines or even sometimes climb into triple digits. On these days, I cannot be bothered to wear much more than a gauzy, swishy sun dress and I refuse all shoes that don’t flip and flop. I’ve also been known to ban all physical contact, even though I’m generally an avid hand-in-hand stroller. And as if this isn’t all bad enough, these days even make me lose my appetite, which is truly a hold-the-presses type of occurrence.

Okay, so I don’t lose my appetite completely. But my palate undergoes a serious reduction and my desire to cook nearly evaporates. On such days, it’s not uncommon to find me standing in front of the open refrigerator or freezer, basking in the icy emanations and also pawing around for a bite of ice cream or crisp slices of cucumbers or a bite-sized cherry tomato that will cooly burst in my mouth.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

On the next such day when I find myself poking around the fridge for a refreshing cool snack, fork in hand, I hope to find a bowl of this potato salad perched in its frigid glory. Because it checks all the boxes for the perfect beat-the-heat treat: cold, crunchy, light, tangy.

Truth be told, I’m about as big a fan of potato salad as I am of ninety-plus-degree weather. I generally find potato salads gloppy and mushy and and meek. But they’re also obligatory. A picnic or barbecue without one is like Thanksgiving without a turkey. So, I’ve experimented with several recipes, usually finding general satisfaction with versions made punchy with vinegar or mustard. But they were never creamy, which made them seem like faux potato salads. I finally worked up the courage to give a creamy version a go, but I predictably omitted mayonnaise in favor of (you guessed it) Greek yogurt. I also added some zing (lemon) and kick (horseradish), as well as crunch (diced celery) and a pop of sweetness (green peas). After a pretty sprinkling of verdant chopped chives, it was time for a taste test. To my surprise, I loved it. I even finished my helping of this salad before I finished my brat, which is saying something. I can’t wait to make another batch when the next heat wave rolls in.

Creamy Potato Salad with Chives and Peas
Adapted from Cooking Light

2/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups cubed Yukon gold potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
1/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed

To prepare the dressing, combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.

To prepare the salad, place potato in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 9 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Combine the dressing, potato, celery, parsley, peas, and chives in a large bowl, and toss well.

4 Responses to “Second Thoughts on Potato Salad”

  1. rachel Says:

    I love the idea of using the peas.

  2. Olga Says:

    Great idea! This would also be great with eggs instead of potatoes (I made something similar before). White and green is just such a pretty combo

  3. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Rachel: Me too. A nice pop of color and flavor.

    Olga: I don’t love hard boiled eggs (shh, don’t tell). But if one did want to add them, how would she otherwise change the recipe?

  4. Laura Says:

    Oooh, this looks good. I am not a fan of mayo in potato salads, so I think this might be right up my alley.


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