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Recipes: Potato salads light on (or minus) the mayo

Take a break from tons of mayo with these three takes on a picnic favorite.

Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.

Potato salad is easy to love, even (or especially) when it’s made with gobs of mayonnaise. It’s also a breeze to customize with different flavors, lightening it up in the process. In the first recipe, the garlic and anchovy vinaigrette is inspired by the Italian dip, bagna cauda. The second variation uses garlic, too, but this time roasted to a nutty sweetness that dovetails beautifully with potatoes. Last comes a style inspired by Mexico, with mild spice from roasted poblano chili peppers and a dressing that gets creaminess from Greek yogurt.

ITALIAN-INSPIRED POTATO SALAD WITH RADICCHIO AND BAGNA CAUDA VINAIGRETTE

Makes about 9 cups

Salt and pepper

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2½   pounds small redskin or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 15, 2-to-3-inch diameter), scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch pieces

2        tablespoons red wine vinegar

¾      cup finely chopped red onion

1         tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2        teaspoons minced anchovy (about 4 medium-small fillets, preferably oil-packed)

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2        teaspoons pressed or grated garlic (about 3 medium cloves)

1         teaspoon minced fresh thyme

½      teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼      cup extra-virgin olive oil

1         large celery rib, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias

½      medium head radicchio, leaves separated and chopped into ½-inch pieces

¼      cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes, return to a boil, adjust the heat to medium-high, and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 6 minutes. Drain potatoes, immediately arrange them in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet, evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon vinegar over them, and rest until cool, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the onion with cold water and set aside for about 20 minutes; drain, dry well, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining vinegar, lemon juice, anchovy, garlic, thyme, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Vigorously whisk in the oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

With a flexible spatula, scrape the potatoes into the bowl with the dressing. Add the onion, celery, radicchio, most of the parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, scrape into a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve at room temperature.

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ROASTED GARLIC POTATO SALAD

Makes about 6 cups

1         medium head garlic, outermost papery skin removed

 1/3     cup extra-virgin olive oil

2        tablespoons sherry vinegar

1         tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1         teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

2½   pounds Yukon Gold or redskin potatoes, peeled or scrubbed, and cut into ¾-inch pieces

1         large celery rib, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias

3        medium shallots, very thinly sliced

3        tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

¼      cup snipped fresh chives

With the rack in the middle position heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the top third of the garlic head to expose the tops of the cloves, place in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, cover with foil, and roast until the cloves are soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting until the cloves are golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Squeeze the cloves out of their skins and roughly chop the roasted garlic.

In a blender or with an immersion blender, process the garlic, 1 tablespoon vinegar, lemon juice, thyme, remaining oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until dressing is thick and emulsified, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Scrape the dressing into a large bowl and set aside for flavors to meld, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes, return to a boil, adjust the heat to medium-high, and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 6 minutes. Drain potatoes, immediately arrange them in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet, evenly sprinkle the remaining vinegar over them, and cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

With a flexible spatula, scrape the potatoes into the bowl with the dressing. Add the celery, shallots, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix gently to combine. Add the parsley and most of the chives and mix gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, scrape into a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining chives, and serve at room temperature.

TIP: ADD THE ACID FIRST

Hot potatoes absorb liquid readily; sprinkling them with the acidic elements of a dressing (vinegar or citrus juice, for example) elevates their seasoning. Spreading them in single layer allows them to cool faster than if they were piled into a bowl and facilitates more even coverage with the acid.

Anthony Tieuli

Hot potatoes absorb liquid readily; sprinkling them with the acidic elements of a dressing (vinegar or citrus juice, for example) elevates their seasoning. Spreading them in single layer allows them to cool faster than if they were piled into a bowl and facilitates more even coverage with the acid.

MEXICAN-INSPIRED POTATO SALAD WITH POBLANOS

Makes about 7 cups

In this Mexican-inflected recipe, Greek yogurt is an unconventional dressing base, but the texture and tangy flavor are great, so I ran with it. Note that the recipe calls for charred poblano peppers. For efficiency, get those done first so they’re ready when you need them.

Salt and ground black pepper

2½   pounds Yukon Gold or redskin potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch pieces

2        tablespoons cider vinegar

1½    teaspoons vegetable oil

1         large onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices

 1/3      cup plain Greek-style yogurt

3        tablespoons mayonnaise

2        teaspoons pressed or grated garlic (about 3 medium cloves)

½      teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper

4        medium poblano peppers, charred, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped (about  2/3 cup)

 1/3     cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potatoes, return to a boil, adjust the heat to medium-high, and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 6 minutes. Drain potatoes, immediately arrange them in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet, evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the vinegar over them, and cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion slices and cook, undisturbed, until charred on the bottom, about 3½ minutes. Flip and continue to cook, undisturbed, until the second side is charred, about 3½ minutes longer. Remove the onion to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, remaining vinegar, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary.

With a flexible spatula, scrape the potatoes into the bowl. Add the onion, poblanos, dressing, 1½ teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste and mix gently to combine. Add most of the cilantro and mix gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary, scrape into a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro, and serve at room temperature.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.
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