How to Make Old Fashioned Potato Salad


Once upon a time, potato salad recipes were as numerous as church picnics and school graduations. Although we have more cooks today, we've unfortunately narrowed the number of potato salad recipes to two or three--however many there are in the deli case. American potato salad has taken a bad rap in recent years as a high calorie, high fat food. That's only true when you limit your experience to those bland, fatty concoctions in the deli. Make your own, using the freshest ingredients you can find and you'll never buy it in the deli again.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 cups (about 5 mediun) red potatoes cut in 1" cubes
  • 1 medium Vidalia (sweet) onion, chopped
  • 2 interior ribs celery, sliced thin
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned or 4 radishes, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup mayo or salad dressing
  • 3 tbsp. salad mustard or 1 Tblspn. dry mustard
  • 1 tbspn. sugar
  • 1 tbspn. vinegar
  • 1 tbspn. parsley
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • Prepare your ingredients. Use red or yellow potatoes. Don't use baking potatoes. You need a firm potato because, although you won't peel them, you will scrub them well and cube them before you cook them. Chop the onion (red or Texas sweets can also be used, just don't use any of those nasty strong onions) and slice the celery. Julienned red pepper or sliced radish makes a colorful addition.

  • Boil a pot of water and cook your cubed potatoes for about ten minutes (or until tender, depending on the variety). When they are tender, drain and rinse with cool water to stop them from cooking any further. While the potatoes cool completely, make your dressing. Combine the mayo, mustard, sugar and spices and whisk. Add the vinegar gradually and whisk until smooth. If you use the salad dressing, omit the sugar and vinegar.

  • Add the veggies to the dressing and stir. Fold in the potaoes. Slice an egg or two and add to the salad. Add salt to taste. Mix gently but thoroughly and cover. Refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

  • To serve, slice another egg to garnish your salad and sprinkle with fresh parsley (or the traditional paprika). As you can see from the few options listed here, you can adapt your recipe and make it your own.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can add anything from your garden that's in season--cucumbers, sliced carrots, radishes. Using what's in season or at hand is what makes it old-fashioned--and a little bit different every time.
  • The prohibition about taking mayonnaise outside in the summer has come into some question recently. Whether mayo is a villain or not, cold food tastes better cold. You're well advised to take only as much potato salad as you'll need, serve it just as everyone starts to eat and keep it out of the sun.

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