We interrupt this travel-saturated blogging binge, punctuated by the occasional glutenous pastry, with a long-overdue post dedicated solely to food.
[Angels sing a heavenly chorus.]
Down to business.
The antithesis of my strong affection for mustard is my absolute hatred of mayonnaise. Sure, sure, its silky texture and satisfying fat content is nice, I suppose. But the flavor? Ew.
My unaccountable but consistent loathing for the sickly white condiment presented me with a quandary, especially growing up in the South: potato salad. Oh yes, that staple of church potlucks and homestyle diners; that ubiquitous, chunky mountain of starchy deliciousness; that best friend of juicy ribs, playmate of sliced ham, and neighbor to the greasy box of Bojangles fried chicken. That dish. I just didn’t like it. I wanted to, though. Over and over again, I sampled the savory ambrosia of the South. I tried a recipe with pickles, one with celery, some with eggs and some without, many with too much dill, and others with very little flavor at all. But each time I was repulsed by my familiar enemy: mayonnaise.
So, for years I contented myself with the pure and simple potato salads favored by my mother and dressed with oil and vinegar. A version with arugula became our family favorite, and for years I was satisfied with feasting up on its peppy zing and forgot about traditional potato salad entirely.
Then recently, it hit me: mayonnaise can be circumvented. It does not own exclusive rights to creaminess! Hallelujah!
Enter plain yogurt. She and I became fast friends during the summer and part of the fall of 2013, when I breakfasted nearly exclusively on overnight oats or granola with yogurt. My mother tells me I used to eat plain yogurt like ice cream, during the first two years of my life when she fed me no sugar whatsoever. Well, those days have returned. Give me a spoon, and I’ll scoop that tangy goodness right out of the container and into my mouth.
So, a few months ago in the beautiful kitchen of fairytale house in another southern state I now call home, I spooned some plain yogurt over roasted red potatoes, added a bit of this and a little of that – in accordance with my usual kitchen procedure – and at last I had my own mound of creamy, crunchy, salty potato salad. Mayo not included. Childhood saved.
I decided that, since I was going to take the time to cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks, I might as well roast them. While boiling does turn the potatoes soft and keep them moist, roasting makes everything taste better. And when you’re going to slather them in yogurt, who cares if your potatoes have a slightly lower water content? I don’t, and you shouldn’t either. Nope, flavor wins.
And for more flavor, I settled on some honey to tame the tang of the yogurt, little bits of garlic and onions for bite and pizzazz, a dollop dijon mustard – my love, my life, fair mustard! – for excitement, and a sprinkling of rosemary to tie it all together. Of course, the omnipresent twins, salt and pepper, also made their requisite appearance. The end result not have tasted exactly like those potato salads of bygone potlucks, but by golly, it tasted good to me.
Creamy Roasted Potato Salad
- 2 pounds red potatoes (or white, if you insist on being boring)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- several dashes of salt and pepper
- 5 tablespoons minced red onion (~1/3 onion)
- 6 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 3 boiled eggs, roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with several dashes each of salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Let cool completely.
Honestly, then I just throw everything together and mix it. But, perhaps a bit more finesse should be taken in order to insure you end up with something to your taste.
So, mix together the yogurt, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper – adding the salt slowly and tasting as you go. Adjust this combination to your taste, or blindly follow my preferences; it’s up to you. Then add the onions and garlic. Finally, place the potatoes and eggs (if you choose to include them) in a bowl, and pour the sauce over them. Stir until everything is well-coated. Taste and adjust seasonings again. And then enjoy the marvelous, mayonnaise-less mound you have made.