What food can be red, white, or blue (or brown or yellow)? The answer is the potato. Select the right potato for your potato salad, and it can add some great color to your Fourth of July picnic. Choose a couple of varieties, and add some color to your Fourth of July potato salad.
Red potatoes, especially the very small ones, have a tender skin and soft flesh. White potatoes are similar, though the skin might be a little thicker. Both boil well. Brown, or russet potatoes have a drier, more textured flesh and a tough skin. They commonly are used for baking. When boiled, russet potatoes may not soften. Yellow potatoes have a soft, waxy texture when boiled. Blue and purple potatoes are the most expensive and often are used as a garnish. They tend to be tiny. When buying potatoes, check the price per pound. A five to ten pound bag of potatoes is usually significantly cheaper than individual potatoes or a one-pound carton of “gourmet” potatoes.
Potatoes are a healthy vegetable. A medium sized cooked potato has about 150 calories and is high in vitamin C and iron. Potatoes contain almost no sodium or fat. The skin is very high in fiber.
Though potatoes are healthy, they don’t stay that way in many recipes. For example, a typical serving of potato salad has 300 calories, including 200 calories from fat, and 650 mg of sodium. That’s four times the amount of salt in a serving-size bag of salted potato chips!
The secret to healthy potato salad is to modify your favorite recipe. Reduce the fat by substituting low-fat mayonnaise or part non-fat sour cream. Eliminate added salt, and pay attention to the other ingredients.
Potato salads are known for their added ingredients including hard-boiled eggs, mustard, chopped celery, grated carrot, bacon, sweet pickles, and capers. If you are having a Fourth of July party, consider making several different types of potato salad. It’s a fun and easy way to add variety. Following are a number of simple potato salad recipes. Each of the recipes below can easily be cut in half, or doubled, or tripled. Homemade potato salad adds a personal touch to any barbecue.
LOW-FAT TRADITIONAL POTATO SALAD
2 pounds potatoes, red or white, peeled or unpeeled
½ to ¾ cup low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
2 to 3 teaspoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Boil potatoes until tender. Be sure you don’t undercook them. Peel potatoes, if desired. Cut potatoes into cubes. Combine with your favorite optional ingredients:
2 hard cooked eggs (or egg whites from 3 eggs for a lower cholesterol version)
¼ cup minced celery
¼ cup grated carrots
¼ cup minced sweet onions (such as Peru or Vidalia)
1 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
BASIC FAT-FREE POTATO SALAD
2 pounds tiny red potatoes, boiled (or other red or white potatoes, boiled and cubed)
⅓ to ½ cup non-fat mayonnaise
⅓ to ½ cup non-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
½ cup liquid non-fat egg, cooked and chopped
To cook the non-fat egg product, pour ½ cup into a plastic freezer container. Microwave about 30 seconds. Stir gently. Cook another 30 seconds. If not yet firm, cook another 15-30 seconds. Cool cooked egg, and chop into large chunks. Add to potato salad.
GOURMET POTATO SALAD
To either recipe above, add your favorite combination from the list below:
1 tablespoon capers (can also substitute caper juice for vinegar in the recipes above)
2 tablespoons Italian olive relish
¼ cup sliced green olives or Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons finely sliced radishes
1 tablespoon minced sweet red pepper
CURRIED POTATO SALAD
To either recipe above, add 1 teaspoon curry powder to the mayonnaise mixture. For a true curry potato salad, add 2 tablespoons pine nuts and 2 tablespoons white raisins.
Other dressings, such as bottled or homemade non-fat salad dressings also can be used in making innovative potato salads. Italian, creamy Italian, Caesar, and ranch work well.