Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daring Cooks' June Challenge - Potato Salad

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!

Bet you thought I was gone for good, huh? Actually, I’ve been away on holiday for the past two weeks. We visited my parents in Strasbourg, then drove up to Belgium to visit other relatives. Overall, it was a pleasant stay, except for all the concern about the E coli outburst in Germany. My mother was especially worried about it, so we had to steer clear of cucumbers and tomatoes until the source of the bacteria was found. The culprit, as you know, turned out to be organic sprouts – and, ironically enough, we did have bean sprouts once, at a Vietnamese restaurant. Fortunately, there were no consequences.

Anyways, when we got home last night, the first thing I did was make a gazpacho. Oh, delicious glutamatey tomatoes, how I missed you! And you too, cucumber, salt’s best friend!

Now, believe it or not, I did plan ahead for this trip, and had a few posts already typed up, with photographs pre-selected and uploaded onto my travel netbook: I was all prepared for posting on the road. However, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having some problems with Blogger. At first, I thought it was just because of Internet Explorer 9, but then there turned out to be other problems, which affected my ability to comment on other blogs, among other things. So, if you haven’t received a comment from me in weeks, it’s not just because I’ve been travelling, it’s also because Blogger wouldn’t let me! So, rather than tear my hair out in front of my low-capacity netbook during my vacation, I decided to just steer clear of the blog until I got home, for sanity’s sake.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about this month’s Daring Cooks challenge. You’ve probably figured out that the reason I’m posting late is that I only got home yesterday evening.

I admit I was underwhelmed when I first found out about the challenge: “exciting” isn’t exactly the word that most readily comes to mind when you think about potato salad. On the other hand, I was grateful for the challenge’s simplicity, as I had precious little time to get it done before leaving. Laurent’s father pitched in, as he often does, by giving me a bag of small potatoes, which he himself had received from someone.

I have no idea what kind of potatoes these were. But they were firm, like fingerlings, and perfect for salads.

I rather felt like improvising, for once, instead of following the challenge recipes. Potato salad isn’t a staple on our table, but we have made different versions at different times. And, although potatoes have a bad rap for being starchy, carb-y, and figure-unfriendly, our hostess was quite right to insist that the potato is an essentially healthy and nutritious ingredient, provided it’s prepared right. You can literally live on boiled potatoes, which you can’t do on bread or rice alone.

Anyways, I flipped through my potato-themed cookbook (because of course I have a potato-themed cookbook), and came upon a recipe which called for smoked salmon (of which I had a slab in the fridge that was in need of being eaten) and tarragon (one of my favourite herbs). The light, oily dressing also appealed to me: I’ve never been a huge fan of mayo-based dressings – Caesar salads excluded.

The potatoes were roasted for this salad, not boiled, which made for an interesting texture. Other than that, the capers, cornichons, and vinegar gave it plenty of acidity, which I also liked. I changed a few things from the original recipe, adding more tarragon and cutting back on the oil. All in all, it was a good meal, and a salad I’m glad to have tested.

I may be late, but it’s never too late to check out the challenge recipes, as well as the other Daring Cooks’ deeds! See you all soon!

Smoked Salmon Potato Salad
Adapted from Paul Gayler's Tout un plat – Patates

Serves two as a meal, four as a first course

400g potatoes
2 tsbp olive oil
Salt, to taste

For the dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp xeres vinegar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For garnish:
2 scallions, finely sliced crosswise
10 cornichons, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 tbsp tarragon, chopped
200g smoked salmon, sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces

Preheat oven to 190ºC (375ºF) Scrub the potatoes clean and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle them with oil and toss until they are evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet or roasting pan, and roast for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through, turning the potatoes over two or three times in the process. Sprinkle with salt and let cool until just warm. Transfer to a salad bowl.

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, drizzle over the potatoes, and toss. Add the scallions, cornichons, capers, eggs, and tarragon, and toss to combine. Divide among plates, and garnish with smoked salmon.


  1. This sounds very tasty. I love cornichons and smoked salmon and the textures in your photo look wonderful.

  2. Ah was wondering what happened to you. Great about the trip and hope things are settled with Blogger. Of course YOU have a potato-themed cookbook lol.Actually I love yours with smoked salmon

  3. Smoked salmon potato salad sounds so yummy! I'm a huge fan of smoked salmon and I'm always looking for a new way to enjoy it. What a cool idea!

  4. Val...I had no idea you could live on boiled potatoes! time I need to drop a Also, I was so worried about the E-Coli scare, I made my BF keep away from the alphalpha sprouts at Whole Foods. I know..they're fine I'm sure..but better safe than sorry lol

    Now..your potato salad is 'wow'. I love smoked salmon so much, and grew up on it on bagels with cream cheese. As I got older, had it in salads and other preps, but especially loved when it was paired with boiled potatoes and sour cream. I would love to try your gorgeous potato salad, and will soon! Looks so delicious!

  5. LOL..alphalpha..I just woke up, I meant alfalfa! Oy ve..and sorry for the novel!

  6. We should meet up one of these days if you're in Belgium again... It's fairly close... :) I - ofcourse now all about the E coli madness... but all is back to normal more or less. Your potato salad looks lovely. It might not be the most exciting challenge but I actually do love a good potato salad and I like the salmon in there too!

  7. I can't believe you have a potato cookbook! Tarragon is one of my favourites too, but I never see it in the stores around here. Maybe I need to get a plant! Glad you're back--I was looking for you.