Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Potato Salad Heaven!

Potato Salad!  What could be better to start off the holiday week-end than Potato Salad? A Daring Cook challenge to come up with a new, better, BEST, healthy potato salad recipe that's what. Of course, almost everyone's Mama or Granmama has the best recipe already. So off with the Chef's hats and on with the thinking caps.What is it about potato salad that we all love so much? How can we make that different, but healthy and still good? The Distracted Cook decided to sit down and study this question before grabbing the potatoes out of the pantry.

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!  

So first things first - what about the potato? We'll worry about the salad part later. A trip to the farmers marketomorrow will be the first step in rounding up a good assortment of potatoes for this experimental salad. Hmm....maybe even some sweet potato can go in here. Or mashed potato? or French fried potatoes? Really, the sky is the limit. Maybe we can try  few different versions of potato salad and have a family taste-off to see which one wins. 

Into the pot go the potatoes - I ended up using "new" potatoes because I like the way they work best. No peeling, no cutting up, just toss them into the water! Now I know why the professional photographers tell us not to try to shoot something with steam! But you get the idea --- potatoes in a pot of hot water just waiting to be tipped out and drained, like this:

Did you notice that ear of corn in there? While thinking about a "new" potato salad,  I thought about a salad that would have all the best Spring things in it. What could be better than a Crawfish Boil Potato Salad that incorporates all the great things we eat at a crawfish boil? So into the pot for the potatoes went some Crab Boil which is what we use to boil crawfish. Crawfish boil is a mixture of ground black,tabasco and cayenne peppers and other strong spices. When we boil the crawfish we almost always throw some potatoes and corn in there too, as well as some hot dogs, sausages, and an artichoke or two.

And so the idea of this potato salad was born. Potatoes, fresh boiled corn that has been cut off the cob, some boiled crawfish and we are in business. This is what the crawfish look like after they have been peeled - or just out of the bag if you buy them already peeled at the grocery. I don't know how healthy they are, but they sure are good!

And this is what I ended up with after the addition of some chopped onion and a mayonnaise/yogurt based dressing. Would I make this again - probably not. Was it good? Sort of. Was it worth it? Definitely ... this is the way you discover great new things! And you discover some that are not so great. Like this salad.

I made another version of the salad using "olive salad" as the dressing and it was better. Olive salad is the wonderful chopped green olive, pickled carrot and celery, olive oil, and capers and other secret ingredients that you find stuffed into your muffaletas. Much better than version one, and I am not sure why. The olive oil based dressing might have been more healthy, and it had the "secret" ingredient taste that keeps you guessing where you had it before.

So, take this challenge yourself.  It is not too late! And if you want to join us next time around just hop on over to The Daring Kitchen and sign up for the fun! See you there.

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