Potato salad (without mayo!)

Most potato salad I’ve come across in my life are very different from what my mom used to make (which obviously is what I consider the standard to which all other potato salads need to measure up to) and if I never had my mom’s or my own inspired by her, I would have to say, I’m not a fan of potato salad. That’s because pretty much they main ingredient is mayonnaise and I can’t stand mayo – I don’t like the texture (slippery slimy like my other food foes butter, raw tomatoes and oysters), taste (all I taste is a fat film taking over my entire mouth) or the ingredient list (mostly a bunch of fats, sugar and calcuim disodium edta, a pollutant and chelating agent which sounds both natural and healthy). Yuk. However, it’s an illusion to think potato salad = a few chunks of potatoes floating in a sea of mayo.

This potato salad is, in my biased opinion, 100 times better and a 100 times healthier. The second being a fact – the only fat in this salad is heart healthy olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • about 10 small potatoes, cut into chunks and steamed until soft (do not overcook)
  • 1 large cucumber (field or English)
  • 4 pickled cucumbers, cut into small chunks
  • 2 green onions, sliced and/or a handful of chives
  • 2 table each spoons olive oil and vinegar for dressing
  • 1 table spoon of mustard (I prefer the grainy Dijon kind)
  • 1 cup of warm broth (I used vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste

imageMix olive oil, vinegar, and mustard, add broth and warm potatoes. Let this sit for about 1 hour, gently stirring to have ensure all the potatoes are soaking up some of the broth. Then, when it’s cooled off, add cucumbers, pickles and green onion and/or chives, season with salt and pepper. Great as a side to BBQ meats or vegetables and this can easily be prepared ahead of time.

The potatoes I used were young potatoes from our garden which by the way came out of a few large potatoes cut up into chunks, then buried into a trench in some soil where nothing else grows, then you need to do some uphilling while the plant grows but is otherwise a very easy garden plant.  You could also use other young potatoes or regular large once, but don’t use russet potatoes or other potatoes you’d use for mashed or baked potatoes, instead use the kind that stays relatively firm – what you would use if you fried them or made hash browns.

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Älplermagronen or Swiss Mac & Cheese

This recipe would fall into the “food around the world” category and is one of the things I took with me when I emigrated Switzerland (luckily it was in my head and needed no space in my heavily oversized, overweight suitcase or it might not have made the cut). It’s a traditional Swiss dish, after the Italians were nice enough to bring pasta with them when they moved north and made friends with the, probably rather strange, inhabitants of the Alps. Here’s my version:

Serves 4

20121223-120348.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped into slices
  • 4 small potatoes, cubed (with skin)
  • ca. 1.5 cups (400g) pasta (I use whatever I have, Penne, macaroni or similar)
  • 6 stripes of bacon or 4 slices of ham, chopped – optional
  • 1 cup (250ml) cream
  • 1 cup (250g) cheese, grated (again, use what you like. I recommend a Swiss Cheese (Gruyere, Sbrinz, Emmental…) or Parmesan)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Applesauce

Directions:

Bring 4 cups of water (1 l) of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to package. We Europeans think you Canadians overcook your pasta but do whatever you like, it’s your meal…Steam cubed potatoes or add to pasta and cook until soft. Drain. Meanwhile:

In a frying pan, melt butter. Add onions and fry until soft, add ham. If you use bacon instead, leave away butter and start by frying bacon, then add onions. Drain some of the fat. Or leave meat out altogether. Add cream and heat up. Do not bring to a complete boil though, as dairy can separate. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and pasta. Mix well. Add potatoes and mix in very gently to avoid breaking the potato cubes.

Serve with apple sauce. That probably sounds strange, but TRUST me on this one. Depending on what Canton (the Swiss “states”) you would eat this, the recipe would differ. Some are with ham, some with bacon, some vegetarian. Some use potatoes, others leave it out. Some might be strict on what type of pasta or cheese to use, I say the heck with it, use what you love and make it your own. I hope you enjoy this!

Potato and Peas or an Upgraded Classic

The Feta cheese and mint make this classic soup into something more interesting. At least that’s my opinion – what’s yours?

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, chopped (peeling optional)
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 4 cups (1l) vegetable broth (home made, store bought or from powder)
  • 1 cup (250g) frozen peas
  • 1 spring fresh mint
  • 0.25 cup (60ml) cream
  • 1 decent sized chunk of Feta cheese (say, 2” square), crumbled

Potato Peas SoupDirections:

Heat oil or butter in pot. Sauté onions until soft. Add potato, then celery. Sauté for a few minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Let it simmer until potatoes are soft. Add frozen peas. Pick leaves of mint spring, discard the chalks and add leaves. Take off heat and blend until smooth. Add cream. Do not boil soup again as dairy can separate and mint loses some of its flavour. Add Feta cheese crumbles, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver: 20 Minute Meals, mobile app.