From naked ‘taters to ‘tater salad

I endured such a deprived childhood. My mother never made potato salad. She believed that once the potatoes were cooked, she could let ’em go. That’s why I had to write an entire cookbook on nothing but potato salad.

In the course of writing the book, I found that there are some occasions that just cry out for potato salad. Easter is one – the creaminess of potato salad balances the salty richness of the giant ham that sits on every southern table. Another is Independence Day. In this case, potato salad is great because it can be made ahead – in fact, it usually tastes even better if you do it the day before. It’s easily portable for picnics (cooler, plenty of ice). And everyone likes it.

This recipe from my book “Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool” published by John Wiley & Sons, is different from the usual and will offer a tangy flavor for your Fourth of July potluck. It’s definitely livelier than naked potatoes.

Lemony Dill Salad

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dill pickle cubes

Chopped fresh dill for garnish (optional)

Place the potatoes in a lage pot, add enough water to cover the, cover the pot wiht a lid, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them. Peel and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, celery and parsley. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, black pepper and dill pickle cubes. Pour the dressing mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to overnight. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh dill, if desired.

Serves 6

Red, white and real blue

I have a hard time doing straight traditional food on a holiday. I feel compelled to bend it just a little. This may be one reason why The Hub and I have never been tapped to host the family Passover seder – the fear that I’ll sneak chipotles into the matzo balls, or some such thing.

Potato salad seems to be the sought-after side for Fourth of July picnics. If you’re like me, and prefer to show some independence on Independence Day, you can go beyond the old ‘taters and mayo. The color of this salad made the tasters who sampled the recipe for my cookbook “Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool” (Wiley, 2009) blink a few times. But those founding fathers liked to have some fun, and I think they’d get it.

Blue Moon

2 pounds purple potatoes

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

Place the potatoes in a large pot, add enough water to cover them, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them. Cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the potatoes.

In a large bowl, combine the blue cheese, chives, walnuts, sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, celery and onion. Add the potatoes and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

Serves 6