Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eastern European No-Mayo Potato Salad

I know mayonnaise is all the rage in culinary circles, but I can't stand the stuff! It's flavorless and gloopy, and it must be the bane of the potato's existence. I think even the most mayo-crazy foodies might agree that what passes for potato salad in most cafeterias and delis is only made worse by the gobs of mayo slathered all over those innocent potatoes. Poor things! Well, no potato salad of mine will ever have to endure such torture.

While in college, I had the pleasure of tasting a fabulous alternative to American potato salad that really spoke to me. It was made, of course, by someone's grandmother. A Croatian friend of mine had a grandmother who lived to feed other people, and she was quite a good, homey cook, so I was happy to oblige. One of the dishes she made was a potato salad with green beans and tons of garlic. Instead of mayo, this salad was dressed in a clean vinaigrette that added brightness and flavor to the dish. Quite a welcome change!

This is my approximation of what that wonderful Babba used to make, with a few added ingredients of my own.

No-Mayo Potato Salad
1 lb. thin-skinned potatoes (any color), scrubbed and sliced 1/4" rounds
20 fresh string beans, trimmed of ends
3 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 very small red onion, or 2 shallots, sliced thinly
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsps. fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large covered pot with a metal steamer basket, steam the potatoes until they are just cooked. In the last 3 minutes, add the green beans to the pot. Allow to cool.

Combine the potatoes, string beans, garlic, onion, tomatoes and parsley in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper until well emulsified. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve cold or room temperature.

Serves 4-6.


Anderburf said...

This sounds really good! I just got some Himalayan sea salt and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I think I'll try it out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Ilana Kriegsman said...

If you want to change this recipe up a bit, try these tweaks:
- sub julienned fresh basil for the parsley
- play around with vinegars - try apple cider, balsamic, or even fig vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar
- add a tsp of ground cumin for a smokey flavor