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Video: Prepare Martha's perfect potato salad

TODAY
updated 5/25/2007 2:09:11 PM ET 2007-05-25T18:09:11

Recipe: Basic Potato Salad

Potatoes make satisfying side dishes in all seasons, summer included. What would a picnic be without potato salad? Opinions on which ingredients are essential to potato salad can vary (maybe your must-include is hard-cooked egg, or diced onion, or sweet pickle relish). Regardless, the starting point must be a basic recipe that promises a good outcome every time. My stripped-down method does just that -- all the salad needs are creative additions to make it your own.

Ingredients
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold or new), scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 4 scallions, white part minced, green part thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
Preparation

Set a steamer basket in a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), and add enough salted water to come just below basket; bring to a boil.

Place potatoes in basket, cover pot, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Steam potatoes, gently tossing occasionally, until tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine vinegar, scallion whites, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and teaspoon pepper.

Add hot potatoes to vinegar mixture; toss to combine. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add mayonnaise and scallion greens to cooled potatoes; mix gently to combine. Serve, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Tips
  • For a potato salad that doesn't end up mushy, use waxy potatoes, which keep their shape better than starchy baking potatoes.
  • For even cooking, make sure the potatoes are cut into uniform pieces.
  • For a hint of sweetness, add a pinch of sugar to the vinegar mixture. For extra tang, sub in sour cream for some of the mayonnaise.
  • For warm-weather picnics, make a no-mayo version: replace the mayo in my basic recipe with 1/2 cup olive oil whisked with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
  • For balanced flavor, keep your mix-ins simple (but still be creative). I like celery and hard-cooked egg. Take it easy on salty and acidic ingredients (combining, say, pickles, capers, and olives would be too much).

Mix-and-Match Mix-Ins (add after salad cools)
Sliced celery
Diced red onion
Sweet pickle relish
Chopped pickles
Slivered green olives
Capers
Chopped herbs
Chopped hard-cooked eggs
Crumbled bacon

Serving Size

Serves 8

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