In Which a Classic Side Dish Gets a Flavorful Tweak…

I honestly don't know anyone who would turn a nose up at potato salad.

I honestly don’t know anyone who would turn a nose up at potato salad.

Say this about potato salad: it tastes great, is crowd-pleasing, and is perfect as both a side dish and something to eat on its own for a light(ish) supper for one.  Practically everyone has their own way of making potato salad.  One friend insists on combining hot bacon fat with balsamic vinegar to make the dressing; another friend adds curry powder and raisins to give the salad a South Asian vibe.  My friend Floyd’s wife, the Missus, is of the opinion that a perfect potato salad is made with baby potatoes and a touch of paprika in the mayonnaise.  The Antipodean’s mother, on the other hand, adamantly insists on the German way of dressing potato salad with plenty of bacon, dill, and finely minced onions.

But where I’m from, the secret ingredient is – believe it or not – tinned asparagus.

WHAT?!?” the Antipodean half-shrieked when I told him about it.

“Yeah, seriously!” I insisted.  “And it is so gosh-darned good, man.  The asparagus adds a bit of a nutty, savory flavor to the spuds.”

The addition of asparagus to potato salad at my house is a relatively new one, the spur-of-the-moment idea of my mother who can’t abide waste and was all askance at finding a tin of white asparagus cuts in the kitchen cupboard.  Given how we sometimes add cubed chayote to potato salad to add a mild hint of sweetness, it was worth a shot – and, yes, it was worth it.

Mom uses regular boiling potatoes for this.  I, on the other hand, prefer to use baby potatoes.  Both of us agree, though, that adding pickle relish gives it an appetizing sharpness, sweet paprika makes all the flavors pop, and cheese helps to round them all out.  Whichever kind of potato you choose for making this salad, this makes a perfect accompaniments to roasts and caramelized chicken.  It’s also amazing on its own as a snack or supper when you’re all alone.

One tip, though: be sure to drain the asparagus properly when you make this; otherwise, the dressing will be too watery.

‘Sparagus Salad

  • 1 kilo marble (baby/chat/new) potatoes, scrubbed well and cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 medium can white asparagus, well-drained and finely chopped
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple, well-drained (save the juice/syrup for another recipe)
  • salt, pepper, and sweet paprika (pimenton dulce) to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup grated mild Cheddar cheese or processed cheese food

Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover plus one tablespoon coarse salt until fork-tender.  Drain well and rinse under running water.  Pat dry with paper towels; set aside.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle relish, and cheese; season to taste.  Fold in the potatoes, asparagus, and pineapple until well-combined.  Transfer to a covered container and chill for at least two hours before serving.

Makes 12 side servings.