Friday, June 10, 2011

Start-of-Summer Potato Salad

Growing up, I was always a big fan of potato salad. The creamy, artery-clogging mayonnaise based salads were always a part of summer family picnics. As a kid I was all about the mayo. I'd even bring mayonnaise sandwiches to school in my lunchbox. Thankfully, I've outgrown this preference. Even then though, my favorite potato salad was the light, vinegar-dressed one that my mother made in big batches to have on hand for dinner every single night once it got warm out. (And I'm not exaggerating about having it every night. Just ask my siblings.) Potato salad was a signal that summer was truly arriving and that the evening meal would be eaten out on the back porch looking at my mother's gorgeous garden.

This summer, I'm still taking classes every day, so it doesn't feel quite right. With the intense classes and the incessant rain, I felt like summer decided to take a year off. For a student, the year resets with summer, and I needed a reset. I was carrying way too much stress around with me, and stress can be heavy, especially to a certified weakling like myself (I've been known to open plastic bottles of orange juice with my swiss army knife when I just couldn't get the twist-top off). What better way to signal summer to myself than taking advantage of a rare day off by sitting in the sun and making potato salad?

This potato salad is somewhat of a cross between the mayo-type and vinegar-type salads. It's made with plain greek yogurt, lending it just enough creaminess while still maintaining the tang of vinegar that I love so much. Using fresh herbs that I picked barefoot in my mother's garden made me feel that maybe - just maybe - summer really was arriving after all.

I didn't follow a recipe, but rather just followed my tastes, which is my favorite way to cook. If you do the same, you'll always end up with something you love, rather than a dish made to suit someone else's palate. With that in mind, I've left my measurements approximate.


  • 1 quart new red potatoes 
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) pinto beans
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped to the size you would want in your salad
  • 1 single server container plain Greek nonfat yogurt (I used Oikos - 5.3 oz)
  • a few tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • fresh lemon-mint (you can use regular mint too. I just happened to have lemon-mint in the garden)
  • fresh basil
  • Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Cutting them into halves or quarters should be enough with new potatoes.
  • Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender but still firm - about ten minutes - check early though, because you don't want mushy potatoes in your salad.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, mix together your Greek yogurt, vinegar, mint, and basil in bowl big enough to hold the finished salad. You can throw in the onions now too.
  • Drain the can of beans (you could always use your own beans prepared from dried, but I didn't have any on hand) and add to bowl.
  • Add the drained potatoes, toss, chill, serve, and eat.

I love this recipe because it's light, quick, and tastes like the start of summer. (Of course summer has a taste! A very, very delicious taste.) I had planned to add some asparagus to this too, but left it out because although I love me some veggies, my Dad's not such a big fan of asparagus, and I was cooking for my parents. I think it would be a wonderful addition. Fresh green beans would be delicious too. As a matter of fact, I'll probably add them in when I make another batch of this soon.

All gone!

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