I spent a good portion of this summer eating potato salad—not because I particularly like potato salad, but because I made a enormous batch of Nonnie’s recipe for a party. And while people did eat it, they didn’t devour it in huge quantities—because I think even when potato salad is good, it’s still potato salad, you know?
We were left with, I can’t stress this enough, a simply gargantuan pile of potato salad, a slippery, starchy heap we dutifully chipped away at for the better part of two weeks. (No, the potato salad did not go bad; yes, it was perhaps not at its freshest by the end of its life.) Even months later, I’m still a little traumatized—and very much over even the idea of potato salad. (Partly because of how much I had to eat, and partly because my husband just will not stop quoting that Black Jeopardy sketch where T’Challah tells Karen to keep her bland-ass potato salad to herself, even though it aired in April. I truly hope he’s not equating me with Karen.)
I feel the need to assure you, again, that none of this is the potato salad’s fault. Nonnie’s take on a picnic classic is perfectly serviceable, even better than usual; it’s dressed mostly with a vinaigrette rather than gooey spoonfuls of mayo, which makes it a little lighter and zippier than the average batch. It’s got celery for crunch and hard-boiled eggs for extra body and texture; the potatoes are also diced rather than halved, ensuring that you’re never going to accidentally spear a bigger-than-bite-sized clump. I can’t argue with this potato salad. I just don’t want to spend another two weeks wearily choking it down.
Then again, maybe this winter—when long, lazy, sun-drenched afternoons are a distant memory—I’ll find myself craving a big, comforting plate of the stuff, a carb-heavy reminder of a brighter season. And when that day comes… I will absolutely not double the recipe again.
3-4 new potatoes (or red potatoes), cooked, and diced [I worried at first that by this, Nonnie actually meant 3-4 lbs of potatoes. But no–this number of potatoes yields weighs about 1.75 lbs, as long as they’re not baby red potatoes, and it makes a good amount of potato salad. I doubled it because I was feeding a crowd; as you know from this post’s preamble, I regret that very much]
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing [Nonnie doesn’t include a recipe here, but my basic formula is: squeeze the juice of one lemon and pour it into a measuring cup. Add a teaspoon-ish of dijon mustard, then fill the cup to the half-cup mark with oil. Stir, and voila: vinaigrette]
1/2 cup chopped celery [i.e. about one stalk]
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup mayonaisse
1/4 cup minced onion [I used red]
1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
[How, by the way, should you cook those potatoes? I did it by putting them into a pot, covering them with cold water, bringing the pot to a boil on the stove, then turning it down to a simmer and cooking for about 25 minutes, until a knife passed all the way through without resistance. If you want to peel them at this point, the peels will slip right off–but I left mine on, because I like the taste and texture they add.]
Place diced potatoes, celery, onion, salt, pepper, and eggs in a bowl. Pour vinaigrette dressing over mixture, and toss. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Just before serving, add mayonaisse and mix well.
The verdict: I was tempted to leave the mayonnaise out altogether, due to both my vaguely Jewish anti-mayo platform and because the salad honestly didn’t need it. Adding the small amount Nonnie calls for didn’t wreck the salad’s texture, but I still think it wasn’t totally necessary—especially since the dish already contains both an oil-based vinaigrette and hard-boiled eggs, ingredients the sort of dillweed who gets kicked off halfway through Top Chef might call a “deconstructed mayonnaise.”
In any case, I left it in—and then added two more pounds of potatoes, and more vinaigrette, and two additional stalks of celery, as well as mountains of salt and pepper (because I’m not Karen!!! I’m not Karen, you guys!). The end result was delicious and abundant, and maybe by next summer, I’ll finally be ready to eat it again. Especially if pulled pork is involved.