Monday, 13 June 2011

My Mom's Potato Salad

My late parents loved to entertain, and my Mom used to make an amazing potato salad for parties and buffets. Her friends always used to ask for the recipe, and she was happy to share. I often serve it as part of a salad supper, or as a side dish with hot or cold main dishes. It always makes me smile and think of my Mom when my friends ask for the recipe - and I’m happy to share too.

This is a great way to use up left over new potatoes, but it is also well worth cooking new potatoes just to make the salad. Although this recipe takes time, it involves very little effort from the cook, aside from a little light chopping.

The whole secret of this delicious recipe is to make sure you start when the potatoes are still warm and let them sit overnight as directed. When I’m planning to use leftover potatoes, I just separate out the potatoes I need for the first night’s dinner and then put the remaining ones in a Pyrex bowl before cutting them up and dressing with the oil and vinegar. Be sure you do not scrub all the skin off the new potatoes before cooking them. The salad is nicer if there is some skin still left, and it is better for you too!

Use whatever salad vegetables you like. Like many family recipes, the quantities are a bit loose and vague as, like my Mom before me, I just make it by heart without thinking, but I have tried to explain how the salad should look at all stages to make it easier. 

If you work on a spoonful of potato salad each, this recipe will serve quite a few people.  Having said that, most people have seconds, so I always make extra.

For the evening before:-
A medium bowlful of cooked new potatoes, preferably with skin left on, still warm
About ¼ cup of olive oil
About 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

For the next day:-
About a 2 cupfuls of finely chopped salad vegetables – red, yellow or green pepper and/or celery and/or spring onions (scallions) and/or radishes all work well
About 4 to 6 tablespoons of mayonnaise
(you may need more or less)
about ¼ teaspoon celery salt, to taste
about ¼ teaspoon pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Drain the potatoes well and place in a bowl. Set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Cut any really large ones in smaller pieces, just right for picking up with a fork. Be careful not to cut them too small - you want firm chunks of potato in this salad, not mush! Pour over the olive oil and vinegar and toss the potatoes gently to coat well. It really depends on how many potatoes you have how much oil and vinegar you will need, but it is definitely okay to have some oil and vinegar left in the bottom of the bowl for the potatoes to marinate in. If you have a lot of potatoes, double the oil and vinegar quantities. Put the warm potatoes in a bowl and let cool to room temperature. When cool, give the potatoes a gentle toss to coat again, cover and then place in the fridge overnight. If you happen to open the fridge for any reason, just give them a gentle toss.

In the morning, take the potatoes from the fridge and drain off any excess oil and vinegar.  You still want the potatoes covered in the oil and vinegar mixture, but you don’t want any left in the bottom of the bowl.  If any of the potatoes are really big, cut them into smaller pieces, but not too small.  You do not want mush here, what you want is actual pieces of potato that you can spear with a fork.  Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Finely chop up whatever salad vegetables you are using. Add the vegetables to the potatoes. Add the seasonings and parsley flakes.

Gradually add the mayonnaise to coat the potatoes and vegetables.  You want the potatoes well coated but you don’t want to overdress the salad or make it mushy. Try to only stir the salad once or twice to avoid breaking up the potatoes too much.  When you are happy with the consistency of the salad, taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cover and chill until ready to serve. The salad will keep for about 24 hours from this point.


  1. I am getting hungry looking at this. I have not made a potato salad in ages. Time to change that.

  2. I love potato salad! This looks delicious!


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