50 salads with spuds

BOOKMARK

July 10, 2002|By Cynthia Glover | Cynthia Glover,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The book's name, Potato Salad, is simple enough. It's the subtitle that tells the story: Fifty Favorite Recipes. Most of us would be hard-pressed to think up a handful of ways to get our spuds to the table in salad form. But here are 50, each sounding more tasty than the last.

There are the basics, of course, like a classic Southern potato salad and a Nuremberg version, which most of us know as German. But then author Barbara Lauterbach's net widens to encompass a rich haul gleaned from friends, restaurateurs and her own imagination.

From cold to hot, side dish to main course, simple to fussy, potatoes star in the likes of New Year's Day Good Luck Salad with black-eyed peas and turkey kielbasa and New Hampshire Mapled Ham and Potato Salad, with a maple-syrup-and-mustard-infused mayonnaise dressing. Only occasionally do the offerings strain credibility. Hot dogs, sauerkraut and yellow mustard in potato salad? Maybe not. A short introduction tells us what kind of potatoes to use and how to cook them. (Hint: It's low- and medium-starch potatoes that make the best salad, as in red bliss, Yukon gold and fingerlings.)

Good ideas and technical tips aside, I do have a few quibbles with Lauterbach's recipes. Each one I tried required serious adjustment. The Nuremberg salad lacked the sweet-and-sour punch of good German potato salad.

The mustard vinaigrette for the Frog Potato Salad overwhelmed an otherwise lovely gathering of Yukon gold potatoes, broccoli, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes. The Smoked Trout and Potato Salad was wildly rich and overdressed.

Still, as a source of ideas for a very popular starch, Potato Salad (Chronicle Books, 2002, $18.95) is hard to beat.

Smoked Trout and Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound fingerling potatoes

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1/4 cup walnut oil

2 tablespoons chopped scallions, including tender green tops

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried dill, crumbled

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise, homemade or high-quality purchased

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 smoked trout, filleted and flesh flaked (about 1/2 pound)

Boston lettuce leaves

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

In a covered pan, steam potatoes in a single layer over boiling water until tender but still firm. Drain and return potatoes to the warm, dry pan. Toss them for a few minutes over low heat to dry.

When cool enough to handle, slice potatoes into 1/4 -inch thick slices. Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle with white wine and walnut oil while still warm. Toss gently. Add scallions and dill, and toss gently again. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Add smoked trout and dressing to the potatoes. Toss gently, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Line a platter with lettuce leaves. Arrange the salad on the greens and sprinkle with walnuts.

Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours, then serve chilled.

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