Give Me Five: Potato salad with dill and smoked salmon
A deliciously retro potato salad
The potato salad bowl is always licked clean
It really has been one of the wettest summers in history, so this year’s salad season dishes had to be a little heartier than usual. I found myself making plenty of warm salads, such as roast vegetables scattered with feta and toasted seeds; spicy quinoa with dried fruits and nuts; or potato salads.
At every family gathering there’s a potato salad. It’s easy to make in large quantities and is a great plate filler. It provides the backbone of the salad buffet, ensuring that nobody starves, and it’s the saviour of people who aren’t big salad eaters. Everyone politely helps themselves to small servings of everything else, but the potato salad bowl is always licked clean.
It’s a nostalgic dish that most people remember fondly. It usually sat side by side with curried rice salad and pasta salad, and it’s the one of that carbohydrate trio that reigns supreme.
My nana made the best version, with pieces of apple and toasted walnuts. As a child it seemed like a cruel trick to add bitter nuts and fruit, but I love coming across a chunk of apple now and think it has a retro charm all of its own. I’d prefer to serve a good old-fashioned potato salad and know that it’ll be eaten.
A good-quality mayonnaise is essential. You can make your own, but I think there’s no need to dabble with a raw-egg sauce when you can buy really good ready-made mayonnaise. Whatever you do, don’t use salad cream: it reeks of tinned potato salad.
Adding dill and lemon juice, and plenty of black pepper, heightens the flavours and is perfect with smoked salmon. When the mayonnaise jar is nearly empty, I sometimes use crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt. Stir through a little Dijon mustard, or some wholegrain for texture, with the dill and lemon juice. Some finely diced gherkin and a few capers make it even more like a tartare sauce, and it tastes great. A little horseradish, or a tablespoon of pesto, is a great addition too.
Or you could avoid a creamy dressing altogether and dress the potatoes in a vinaigrette of olive oil and cider or white wine vinegar.
Another great flavour shortcut is to buy smoked salmon that’s marinated in something. Dill- or chilli-flecked salmon is widely available.
This salad really shows that a little goes a long way. By folding the fish through the warm salad, its smokiness fully permeates the salad without overpowering it.
Smoked trout or hot smoked salmon is also delicious. Oily smoked mackerel doesn’t work well with the mayonnaise.
If you have an aversion to dill, try flat-leaf parsley or even a little tarragon, or finely snipped chives.
I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, but they won’t work for this recipe. It’s fantastic if you’ve grown your own lovely heritage varieties, such as the purple-tinged Shetland black or Salad Blue. Children love different-coloured vegetables, so the heritage rainbow range of carrots or potatoes are usually a big hit.
New potatoes are best when simply boiled, so having them in a salad like this is a nice way to ring the changes.
SMOKED SALMON AND DILL POTATO SALAD: SERVES 4
The five ingredients
- 800g baby new potatoes
- 3tbs mayonnaise
- 2tbs lemon juice
- 10g dill, finely chopped
- 100g smoked salmon, in bite-size pieces
Place the baby potatoes in a pan and add enough boiling water to cover them. Bring to the boil and simmer until just tender. Drain well and return to the pan to steam dry for a minute, before removing from the heat entirely.
Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill. Add plenty of black pepper to taste.
Fold the slightly warm potatoes through the mayonnaise until evenly coated. Fold through the smoked salmon pieces and serve immediately with wedges of lemon.
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