Thursday, May 24, 2012

tzatziki potato salad

tzatziki potato salad

I don’t eat potato salad for lunch. That would be… unhealthy, irresponsible, gluttonous, and nutritionally unbalanced. However, I have found that when potato salad exists in the fridge, it has a way of becoming lunch, usually through a nibble that becomes a forkful which eventually leads to succumbing to the fact that potato salad, on occasion, make a fine carb-bomb of a warm weather lunch.

two pounds, ready to boil
quartered tiny potatoes

Fortunately, there are entries in the potato salad archives for times just like these. Three years ago, I made a pesto potato salad with green beans and, so you know, adding green beans to potatoes totally makes it a balanced lunch. Last year, I made a spring salad with new potatoes — see how tricky I was there? It’s mostly salad, with early vegetables like asparagus, radishes, and sugar snaps but it’s also got a few potatoes in there and a sharp Dijon vinaigrette. And today, I made a tzatziki potato salad heaped with a pound of shredded, cold cucumber, lemon and garlic yogurt, and oh, there are some potatoes in there too. It’s as lunchy as potatoes can be and considering that I was able to make it in the all-too-slim margin between preschool drop-off, grocery shopping, and the post-preschool I’m-huuuungry-mama meltdown, I think it will be my go-to potato salad this summer, should the rains ever stop long enough for us to put some lamb skewers on the grill.

feeding the cuke into the chute

shredded cucumber
making a small mess

This is also a friend to mayo-phobes, you know who you are. I confess to being fascinated by the level of revolt many people feel towards mayonnaise. “It’s a classic French sauce!” I try to tell people. “It’s a simple emulsion of egg yolk and oil!” but nobody listens to me. “Just try to make it from scratch once and see if it still seems so terrible!” Alas, today I won’t even have to get on my soapbox because it turns out that yogurt (and a slip of sour cream) make a phenomenal, non-contentious dressing from things you likely already have in your fridge, and I imagine will be as welcome at your weekend cookouts as, well, you.

tzatziki-clad potatoes

Potato Salad, Previously: Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans, Spring Salad with New Potatoes, Roseanne Cash’s Potato Salad, Horseradish Potato Salad (also mayo-free, with sour cream), Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Salad (my husband’s favorite, with refrigerator pickles and radishes), Potato Salad with Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette, Arugula, Potato and Green Bean Salad (more of a dinner salad, with potatoes), and Salad Olivier (Jacob’s favorite potato salad). Teaser: I’ll have another lunchtime potato salad favorite over here.

One year ago: Strawberry Summer Cake
Two years ago: Scrambled Egg Toast
Three years ago: Strawberry Shortcakes
Four years ago: 30 Ways To Be A Good Guest
Five years ago: Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt

Tzatziki Potato Salad
Mostly adapted from Ina Garten

Please forgive me, if you can, for running a recipe so close to one from a few years ago.* I cannot help it. When you find the tzatziki you want to spend the rest of your life with, you don’t go auditioning new ones on the side just in case. You just make it as often as you can and sometimes cold, boiled potatoes find their way in and those days, you get to call it lunch.

* Three whole days before having a baby. Why was I cooking? Really, you should have had a talk with me about that.

Here’s what I love about this salad, aside from the fact that it’s a cinch to make: it’s cool and refreshing while so many potato salads are full of heft — the the cucumber-dill-yogurt-lemon-garlic thing is like an edible air-conditioner. Such things come in handy during especially sticky NYC days.

4 pounds potatoes (I like tiny Yukon golds, but you can use whatever boiling potatoes you like for salads)
1 3/4 cups Greek yogurt (I used full-fat but I think other fat levels would work)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from half a big lemon)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond brand; use less if you use another, read why here)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 hothouse or English cucumber (1 pound), unpeeled but quartered lengthwise, seeds removed

More ideas for additions: Crumbled feta, chopped green olives, chopped fresh mint leaves or a minced hot chile

In a medium pot, cover your potatoes with cold water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-high and let potatoes simmer until tender enough that they can be pierced easily with a skewer or slim knife. I find that small potatoes tend to be done in roughly 30 minutes from the time I put them on the stove cold, but it’s best to start checking 5 to 10 minutes sooner. Drain potatoes and let them cool completely. (This is a great step to do ahead, as it seems to take potatoes forever to cool. If you’re really in a rush, spread them on a tray and pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes.)

Meanwhile, in the bottom of a large bowl, stir together yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Grate the cucumber on a box grater (or in your food processor’s shredding blade, if you like to get things done in one hundredth of the time) and try to remove some of the excess by squeezing out handfuls, pressing it in a mesh sieve with a spoon or wringing it in a square of cheesecloth or a lint-free dishtowel. Add to yogurt mixture.

Once potatoes are cool, cut tiny ones into quarters or larger ones into generous chunks. Add to cucumbers and yogurt and stir to coat. Add any extra ingredients desired. Adjust seasonings to taste. Either eat immediately or keep in the fridge for up to three days.


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