Growing up in the midwest, I hated potato salad. It’s true. The staple side dish gracing every BBQ was the bane of my outdoor dining existence. It occurred at some point in when I hatched a distaste for mayonnaise.
I believe this decision formulated shortly after I made myself a tuna fish sandwich: In attempts to get the fishy tuna flavor out of my sandwich, I mixed in close to 2 cups of mayonnaise (into a single-serving can of tuna). It didn’t help, and I ended up discarding the sandwich, two bites of which gave me a horrible stomach ache. (Who would have thought with all that mayonnaise?)
Next, mayonnaise-heavy potato salad popped into my vision at every deli counter. There is something about prepared deli counter salads that has always told me to stay away. Is it the resemblance to the lunch line at school? Or perhaps the display that gives everything a brownish-blue hue and make nothing appear to be refrigerated?
Let us pinpoint these moments as the beginning of my mayonnaise banishment.
Obviously, this dislike of mayonnaise, living in the midwest, brings me to my hatred of potato salad. Because we all know midwest potato salad and mayonnaise go hand-in-hand.
It was not until college that I tried potato salad again. My good friend A made me her family’s Lebanese Potato Salad, which she described as simply adding the Lebanese basic seasonings: garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Light, simple and totally delicious, it awakened me to a whole new world of looking at potatoes: Did you know potatoes don’t need to be mashed with butter or fried and dipped in ketchup to taste good?
My preferred method of cooking potatoes now is making a potato salad using the Lebanese trio (trio because in my book, an herb, salt and pepper are given). Sometimes I spice it up with some hot chili flakes, sometimes I add other vegetables to bulk it up, as in this case. You cannot go wrong when you work with these basic, yet deliciously pure ingredients.
Please note: I have recently found new appreciation for mayonnaise. While I still do not use it in a tuna sandwich, I can understand its place in a vinegar-based coleslaw (just a little fat, not saturated in mayonnaise). I also admit that I recently made my own mayonnaise and highly suggest a homemade version over anything store bought. (Further, I prefer homemade because I know I will actually finish it– the smallest bottle of store bought mayonnaise has gone bad in my refrigerator. With a shelf life over one year, you do not want to know what rancid mayonnaise smells like.)
Potato Salad with Corn and Green Beans
Serving size= 6-8. Cook time= 15 minutes. Prep time= 10 minutes.
1 pound potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size (I prefer the texture of new potatoes in potato salad because they hold shape and texture)
1 cup corn, sliced from cob fresh (or canned)
1 cup green beans, cleaned and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt/ pepper to taste
Boil potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes, until soft when pricked with a fork. While potatoes are cooking, place fresh corn, green beans, olive oil and garlic in the serving bowl. When potatoes finish cooking, drain, but do not rinse with water. Place hot potatoes in the serving bowl and toss. The residual heat will steam the corn and beans, leaving the beans snappy (if you prefer beans more done you can steam them for 30 seconds before you add them to the hot potatoes). Finish by tossing with the parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, at room temp, or cold.