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story.lead_photo.caption Warm Potato Salad With Soft-Cooked Eggs (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

In keeping with social distancing guidelines that gatherings must be small, we scaled down four of our favorite potato salad recipes. They still make plenty — about 4 cups each — but not so much that a family of four will be eating potato salad for a week.

Varieties of potatoes used in potato salad: (clockwise from top left) fingerling, ruby red, russet and baby Yukon gold.
Varieties of potatoes used in potato salad: (clockwise from top left) fingerling, ruby red, russet and baby Yukon gold.

The type of potato used to make potato salad is less important than one might think. Russets, Yukon golds, red-skinned and fingerlings all make delicious potato salad. What's important — really important — is the cooking process.

No matter the variety of potato, if you overcook them you'll end up with spud mush, not 'tater salad.

Classic Creamy Potato Salad (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

But that's not to say variety doesn't matter. Pick your spuds based on the salad's desired texture.

For potato salad with firm yet tender, distinct chunks of potato, waxy (gold- or red-skinned) potatoes are best.

However, russet potatoes' starchiness can give potato salad a creamier, smoother texture without the need for excessive amounts of mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt.

When you're preparing a potato salad recipe for the first time, we suggest using the specific variety called for in the recipe. Once you know what to expect, then you can play around with different varieties to change the texture.

Potato salads fall into two main camps: cold mayonnaise-dressed and warm vinegar-dressed.

But the potato's versatility and ability to marry well with almost any flavor mean creative cooks aren't limited to the traditional. Assertive ingredients — think curry, cumin, lemon and oregano, chipotle and lime — are great options for increasing the flavor of potato salad.

To peel or not to peel? This is a great question. Spuds cooked and served in their

jackets will hold their shape, have more flavor and nutrients than those peeled before cooking. However, some diners find the texture of skin-on potatoes unappealing. A good compromise is to cook them with their skins on, and then when the cooked potatoes are just cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and proceed with the recipe.

Boiling is by far the most common cooking method, but roasting and grilling are delicious options. The potatoes will cook more evenly if they're all the same size, so halve, quarter or chop them into roughly equal pieces. When boiling potatoes, always start them in cold water and boil until just tender. Spuds are done when they can be pierced with a fork. They're overdone if they fall apart when pierced.

For optimal flavor, always salt the potatoes or their cooking water before cooking. And don't be stingy with the salt.

Warm or room temperature potatoes absorb flavors better than cold ones. For a balanced, well-married salad, dress the potatoes while they are still warm (if using a vinaigrette) or at room temperature (if using mayonnaise-based dressing). However, if you want the potatoes, rather than the dressing, to be dominant flavor, let the spuds cool before dressing and combining with the remaining ingredients.

Classic Creamy Potato Salad

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes

1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided use

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

½ cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons minced red onion

3 tablespoons pickle relish (sweet or dill)

¼ to ½ cup mayonnaise, plus more as needed (see notes)

1 teaspoon to 1 scant tablespoon sweet mustard

¼ teaspoon celery seed (see notes)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by one inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 teaspoon of the salt, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender but still firm and not mealy, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand at least 20 minutes until potatoes are just warm, or cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together chopped celery, onion, pickle relish, mayonnaise, mustard, celery seed, parsley, black pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Using rubber spatula, gently fold into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to one day.

Makes about 8 (½-cup) servings.

Note: Substitute sour cream or plain yogurt for most of the mayonnaise, if desired. To substitute celery salt for the celery seed, omit salt in the dressing.

Vinegary (Vegan) Potato Salad

1 ½ pounds red new potatoes, halved or quartered

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

3 green onions, chopped

¼ cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped dill

Salt and ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Add the potatoes to the vinaigrette and mix gently but thoroughly. Toss in the green onions, parsley and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 8 (½-cup) servings.

Recipe adapted from The New York Times

Pimento Cheese Potato Salad 
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Pimento Cheese Potato Salad (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

This version combines two of our favorite summer foods: potato salad and pimento cheese.

What's not to love?

Pimento Cheese Potato Salad

1 ½ pounds fingerling potatoes or other small, waxy potato, cut into ½-inch slices

Salt

1 ½ cups (about 6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus more to taste

¼ cup diced pimento peppers OR diced roasted red bell pepper

1 or 2 green onion, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, optional

Ground black pepper to taste

Fresh snipped chives, optional

In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough cold water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, add about 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, at least 20 minutes.

Add the cheese, mayonnaise, pimento, green onion, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly, but gently. Taste and add more mayonnaise, salt and pepper as needed.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with chives just before serving.

Makes about 8 (½-cup) servings.

Warm Potato Salad With Soft-Cooked Eggs 
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Warm Potato Salad With Soft-Cooked Eggs (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

We've yet to make a recipe from blogger and cookbook author Chungah Rhee that didn't live up to her brand's name, Damn Delicious.

Warm Potato Salad With Soft-Cooked Eggs

3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 ½ pounds yellow and red baby potatoes, halved or quartered or cut into 1-inch chunks

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard (whole grain, Dijon, regular)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, minced OR 2 tablespoons minced red onion

Ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or parsley

2 soft-cooked or medium-cooked eggs, sliced or halved

Cook bacon in a skillet until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, add about 1 teaspoon salt and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes; drain well.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, mustard, red wine vinegar and shallot or red onion; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add warm potatoes and mix well to coat.

Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl and top with bacon, herbs and eggs.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 8 (½-cup) servings.

Recipe adapted from damndelicious.com

Food on 05/20/2020

Print Headline: Spud love

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