Potato Salad

It’s Memorial Day here in the U.S. and we are supposed to be thinking about the contributions of those who died in combat in the name of our country. I think most people are thinking about grilling hamburgers and drinking beer instead. I like to make holiday-appropriate meals so in that spirit, I made Vegan Dad’s Perfect Tempeh Burgers (atop homemade whole wheat rolls), baked beans (*cough* from a can, I’m so embarrassed *cough*), and potato salad. I also drank some beer like a good American.

Potato salad is one of those things for which I don’t understand the need for a recipe, so I feel a bit stupid offering one. But I’m training myself to be better about remembering to take pictures so I can share recipes with you when stuff turns out well, so I photographed my potato salad and will thus give you a recipe. I used red potatoes, because it’s what I had on hand, but I think next time I will try to pick up some Russets for this recipe because they sort of disintegrate and make for a creamier salad that is more like what my family made when I was growing up.

My family also always added hardboiled eggs to potato salad. For that reason, I used Indian black salt instead of regular salt in this recipe. Indian black salt – which is actually pink – smells heavily of sulfur and therefore tastes sort of like eggs, so I add it to things I want to remind me of eggs…which honestly isn’t much. Mark hates the smell of it, but I sort of like it. If you don’t have black salt, you can substitute regular sea salt, but don’t use salt that is actually black (lava salt) because it will turn your potato salad gray.

Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed (any kind is okay; baking potatoes will be creamier)
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup Vidalia or red onion, small dice
2 small or 1 large dill pickle, minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1 tsp Indian black salt or regular sea salt (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs – I used dill and chives because my dill and chive plants are taking over my indoor herb garden, but parsley would be good, too.

Chop the potatoes into 1″ cubes, place in a pot, and cover with water. Simmer until a fork pierces them easily (about 20 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the celery, pickles, onions, and herbs.

When potatoes are done, drain and mix with all other ingredients.

Chill for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.

Here are the rolls I made:

I used this recipe.

Here is the meal plated, although it’s a lousy photograph:

In other kitchen-related news, yesterday I successfully re-seasoned a cast iron Dutch oven that I tried to destroy a few weeks ago by leaving it empty on a hot burner for an hour or so. I have a really bad habit of wandering out of the kitchen in the middle of doing something and then immediately and completely forgetting I have something going on, leaving my husband to ask me much later if the stove is SUPPOSED to be on fire. The great thing about cast iron is it’s virtually indestructible, and in fact, being forced to re-season this piece turned out to be a good thing because it was one of those pre-seasoned Lodge pots and I was never really happy with the seasoning, which wasn’t nearly as non-stick and wonderful as my antique Griswold skillet. It turns out you really should season those so-called pre-seasoned items, so why you should spend twice as much on them, I do not know. You might as well just buy a non-seasoned one if you’re going to have to season it anyway. I guess you don’t have to pre-wash the pre-seasoned ones as thoroughly. Anyway, I rubbed the pot with Earth Balance shortening, in lieu of the much-hyped seasoning power of lard (which is not to say I’m not a fan of The Power of Lard, and if I didn’t think she’d absolutely kill me, I’d share a picture of my mother wearing my Dead Kennedys sweatshirt at my niece’s birthday party this weekend). The Earth Balance worked really well; I baked it at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of hours. It didn’t smoke much and the finish is really nice. I did a test-run in it by caramelizing some onions for our tempeh burgers tonight and that went very well. The pot is much better than it was before I tried to incinerate it! I’m inspired to go find some more vintage cast iron and re-season it!

The other thing I’m proud of myself about is the fact that I sharpened my chef’s knife all by myself a couple of weeks ago and it’s actually sharper than it was before I sharpened it! I bought a whetstone a while ago, but every time I tried to use it, I’d just make my knife duller, so I’d force my very handy best friend to sharpen it for me whenever he was around. (I make that boy work for his meals.) He’s been a bit complainy about driving to Virginia lately, though, so the last time he was here I made him show me how to do it properly and I later actually managed to do it without his supervision. But I’m still a little surprised every time I use it and it chops things. Tonight it sliced a very ripe tomato (which may sound like an easy task, but you really need a very sharp (or serrated) knife to pierce the skin)!


  1. Kevin Said,

    February 7, 2009 @ 1:37 am

    Hi, I know this is an older post, but maybe you can help me. I’d tried seasoning my cast iron in the oven before, at 500 degrees as the cookbook said, but after a few minutes it was smoking like crazy and the oil had burned off on half the skillet. I thought at the time that it was because I used some random vegetable oil that had too low a smoke point.

    So when I read this I was excited to try it with shortening, so I bought some crisco vegetable shortening, but the same thing happened, and this time it set off the smoke detector and really pissed off my roommates! haha. Any idea what is happening?

  2. renae Said,

    February 8, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    I don’t know why Crisco and Earth Balance would act so differently and a lot of people use Crisco, so I think you’re fine there. Mine definitely smoked, but not enough to set off our somewhat sensitive smoke detectors. You could try it at a lower temperature. I seasoned a cast iron wok that has plastic handles at a much lower temperature, maybe 300, and it worked. Maybe next time try it when the roommates aren’t home? 🙂 Also, if you have access to an outdoor grill, you can use that to season it as well.

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