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Salads : Potato Salad Without Steaming Up the Kitchen

July 05, 1991|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER

For years there seemed to be just one type of potato salad, the one with celery chunks and mayonnaise dressing. We call it American Potato Salad, but these days we lighten it with yogurt in place of half the mayonnaise. This reduces the fat without changing the flavor much.

If you prefer a salad with a little less dressing, you may want to try the Simple Potato Salad, tossed with only a light vinaigrette marinade. There's also hot German Potato Salad, served on young dandelion leaves from plants that haven't bloomed. Curly chicory ( frisee ) is a good substitute if you can't find dandelion leaves. Sweet potatoes also make a tasty salad with lime juice and cilantro.

In all cases, the secret to a good potato salad is to cook the potatoes in their jackets so that they won't absorb too much moisture. They are then peeled, sliced and marinated in a vinaigrette while they are still warm.

And it is the microwave oven that will keep you from steaming up the kitchen on hot summer days.

On the whole, we prefer waxy, thin-skinned potatoes to make a salad because they hold their shape best when sliced or cubed. Potatoes should be cooked until easily pierced with a fork but still remain slightly firm. They should not break apart when pierced.

SIMPLE POTATO SALAD

1 pound long white potatoes, rinsed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion, chives or onion

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional

Pierce potatoes once on top and bottom and place in 2-quart microwave-proof casserole. Add water. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 7 to 10 minutes or until tender, turning over and repositioning halfway through cooking.

Let stand, covered, 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Drain, peel and cut potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Place slices in serving bowl.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in small mixing bowl. Pour over warm potatoes. Let potatoes marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Stir in green onion and parsley just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Variations:

New Potato Salad:

Substitute small, red-skinned new potatoes, whole or halved before cooking. Reduce cooking time to 5 to 9 minutes on HIGH (100% power). Do not peel.

Steak and Potato Salad:

Make New Potato Salad variation. Fold in 2 cups steak slices (or julienne-cut chicken or turkey). Serve on dark salad greens such as arugula or spinach.

AMERICAN POTATO SALAD

1 pound long white potatoes, washed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt

2 to 4 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

Cook potatoes in microwave using same method as Simple Potato Salad.

Let stand, covered, 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Drain, peel and cut into 1/8-inch slices. Place slices in serving bowl.

Whisk together yogurt and mayonnaise in small mixing bowl. Fold mixture into potatoes along with celery. Makes 4 servings.

GERMAN POTATO SALAD

1 pound long white potatoes, washed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 cup beef broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon or thinly sliced bratwurst or kielbasa

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional

Cook potatoes in microwave using same method as Simple Potato Salad.

Let potatoes stand, covered, 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Drain, peel and cut potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Place potato slices in serving bowl.

Combine oil, vinegar, broth, salt and pepper in 1-quart glass measure or microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes. Pour over warm potatoes. Let marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Fold in bacon, green onion and parsley just before serving. Serve at room temperature, over dandelion leaves or curly chicory, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

SWEET POTATO SALAD

4 sweet potatoes, washed

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion or chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Pierce sweet potatoes once on top and bottom. Place on paper towel in microwave oven in circle with 1 inch space between. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 10 to 13 minutes, turning over once. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Place slices in serving bowl.

Combine oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in small mixing bowl. Pour over warm potatoes. Let marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Stir in green onion and cilantro just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Potato salads recipes may be doubled. Double amount of potatoes, placing them in 3-quart microwave-proof casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 12 to 18 minutes, turning potatoes over twice. Also double dressing.

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