RECIPES Nothing says summer like potato salad
By J.M. Hirsch
Nothing says summer and outdoor eating like potato salad, an iconic blend of tender, starchy chunks and oil or mayonnaise with a bit of vinegary bite.
But this perennial favorite is easy to flub. The potatoes can be overcooked and mushy -- or not even the right kind to start with. And the mayonnaise or oil can be overwhelming.
Vegetarians who avoid eggs face additional dilemmas. Some traditional recipes call for hard-boiled egg, and most call for mayonnaise, traditional recipes for which also contain eggs.
Let's start there. While it is possible to make your own mayonnaise substitute using pureed tofu and a variety of other ingredients, I don't recommend it. They tend to taste like pureed tofu with a variety of other ingredients added.
There are a variety of egg-free mayonnaise substitutes sold at most grocers and natural food stores, and many are quite good. Some emulate real mayonnaise, while others go for the sandwich spread-salad dressing style.
For the perfect potato, we turn to the experts at Cook's Illustrated magazine, who made probably a trillion or so batches to get it just right for their cookbook, "The Best Recipe."
Their advice is simple. Low-starch potatoes, such as Red Bliss, are best. Starchy potatoes break apart too easily to survive most salad recipes. Among cooking methods, they prefer boiling in unsalted water. And don't peel unless you really want to. And even if you do, wait until after the potatoes are boiled.
The following recipe will take about 30 minutes to prepare.
Leek and new potato salad
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
1 pound young leeks
2 to 4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons truffle oil (black or white), for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Trim the leeks and cut into 1-inch chunks. Wash them thoroughly and cook in the boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. When the potatoes are done, drain and cut into halves. Add to the dressing while still warm. Add the leeks and stir well to coat. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. To serve, spoon onto individual plates and drizzle with truffle oil. Makes 4 servings.