Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan
Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan

I am not a religious person, but if there is one thing that makes me believe there might be some grand design to the world, it’s potatoes.  They are a wonderful, versatile, almost perfect food (only “almost” because they don’t greatly lend themselves to dessert, Grand Forks’ chocolate-covered potato chips notwithstanding).  I feel as though I could do a pretty good Irish potato-lover’s version of the Forest Gump shrimp monologue, and I’ve prepared potatoes about a hundred million different ways.

But for picnics, for the upcoming Labor Day festivities, for an end-of-summer celebration? Potato salad is where it’s at.  Potato salad is the one socially-acceptable way to eat cold potatoes; it’s perfect for a hot day, travels well, and in a mayo-free version, is both allergen-free and pretty temperature stable.  As an added bonus, this one fries up into amazing home fries if any makes it to the next morning.

I developed this recipe in my friend Cathy’s kitchen, adapting the random ideas in my head to what happened to be in her pantry at the time, and it turned out better than all my previous attempts.  This is definitely a tweakable recipe (ask my mother, who asked for the recipe and then proceeded to make it with nearly none of the same ingredients.  She’s like that sometimes).

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Two Ways!

A note on notations — I use the “~” to indicate approximate measurements, indicating that exact measuring for these ingredients is not necessary.  Actually, exact measuring is not necessary for this recipe, but this is how I’ve made it.

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Bacon Lover’s Edition
  • ~ 2 lbs.  potatoes, your choice, washed
  • Water to cover
  • ~1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 4-6 strips of bacon (whatever fits in your skillet, adjusted to how much bacon you like)
  • 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat, reserved
  • 2-4 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • One bunch of scallions/green onions, chopped and separated (greens from whites)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard or 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 3 teaspoons dried dill or up to 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan Version

  • ~2 lbs.  potatoes, your choice, washed
  • Water to cover
  • ~1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of vegan margarine (I’ve used Earth Balance soy-free)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • One bunch of scallions/green onions, chopped and separated (greens from whites)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard or 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 3 teaspoons dried dill or up to 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Step 1: Cook potatoes. This step is the same no matter which version you’re going to make.  Now there are many types of potatoes out there, and any one of them will work for this recipe.  Some will just work better than others.  I personally prefer a more waxy potato for salads, as I think they hold together better.  The local fingerlings that are coming in now are just about perfect.  Red potatoes are probably the best out of the “typical” finds in a grocery store.

Fingerling Potatoes
Fingerling Potatoes

Don’t peel your potatoes unless you really really hate potato skin or maybe are using the thick-skinned Idaho russet potatoes (baking potatoes).  There are lots of vitamins and fiber in the skin, plus it adds texture.  Just wash and scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water.  I’ve never measured the water or salt I use for this step — cover the potatoes with water, plus about another inch.  For this batch of two pounds, I probably used a tablespoon of salt.

Cover and bring this to a boil on high heat, turn down to medium or low, depending on your stove, but make sure the water keeps boiling.  How long the potatoes will take to cook depends on the size of your potatoes.  Cooking them whole retains more nutrients, but it’s harder to give you a time.  Smaller potatoes take about 15 -20 minutes, larger baking potatoes could take 40 — you might want to cut those in half.

Drain and cool the potatoes, then chop them into bite-sized chunks.

Step 2: Here’s where things diverge into two tracks — the bacon lover’s edition, and the vegan version.  The final effect is mostly the same, but how you get there differs.

Bacon Lover’s Edition, step 2:
Cook bacon. Chop or crumble.  You could chop the bacon ahead of time, but I think it turns out crispier if I cook it in strips and then crumble it.
Dump out most of bacon grease, leaving about 1 T.

Vegan Version, step 2:
Melt about 1.5 T of Earth Balance (I use their soy-free version, but whatever works for you) in a skillet.  Wait until it gets a little sizzle to it.

Back together again, steps 3-6:

Step 3: Saute onion in your chosen fat.  If making the vegan version, add the salt and liquid smoke once the onion has started cooking.

Add white part of scallions when onion is translucent, cook another few minutes.

Potato Salad Vinaigrette Ingredients
Step 4: Sauce it up.
Turn off the heat but leave the skillet on the burner.
Add mustard and dill.  If using prepared mustard, add the vinegar before mixing (trust me).  If using just dry spice, mix before adding vinegar and let the mustard and dill soak up the oil.
Stir in the green parts of the scallions (1/2 cup or so, depending on your bunch).

Vinaigrette

Add a dash or two of olive oil if needed.  You want the end result to be a bit saucy, as the potatoes will soak up the vinaigrette.  I’ve added about 1 Tablespoon in the photo.

Add potatoes, stir, taste — add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.  Or chill and serve, up to you.  Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan
Eat.  Re-fry leftovers and call them “George.”  No, really, call them home fries.  They are awesome.

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