Winter Potato Salad


This Russian potato salad proves that potato salad is not just for summer picnics. photo credit: Nancy Duran

Recently, our very own Jeanne McLaurin (resident Ripe Earth nutritionist) had the distinct pleasure of visiting Russia. She brought back with her hundreds of amazing photos, wild and enchanting stories, and awesome vodka. But more importantly, she returned with tons and tons of recipe inspiration. Russian cuisine is still pretty exotic here in the United States and it wasn’t a big part of my culinary training so I loved learning from her experiences. While there’s so much to explore, I thought I’d offer something simple and approachable with which to start. Hopefully it whets your appetite to know more. It certainly did mine.

This St. Petersburg style potato salad makes for a great winter side. It pairs really nicely with the heartier cuts of meat we tend to prefer in cold weather and the ingredients are all readily available during the winter months. It’s also a great option for large party entertaining for, oh, I don’t know, something like an important sporting event (go Hawks!). The salad can be made way in advance (two days before is just fine) and is best served at room temperature.

In its traditional form, all the ingredients are chopped really finely, making it somewhat onerous on the prep side. I, however, like my salads with bigger bite-sized pieces because the dish looks more modern and you can taste the individual ingredients better. So this adapted version is a breeze to prep.

Enjoy the game tomorrow night everyone. And happy comfort food eating!

Serves 8

3 medium carrots, peeled
3 pounds fingerling potatoes (as uniform in size as you can get)
1 cup finely chopped ham steak
1 cup frozen baby green peas (petit pois), blanched or steamed
3/4 cup cornichons, sliced on the diagonal
2 scallions, dark green parts thinly sliced, white and light green parts finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

  1. Place the carrots in a large pot of salted water. Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, until tender but not overcooked. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.
  2. Return the water to the boil and add the fingerling potatoes. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until they are just tender but not overcooked (you should be able to smoothly pierce them with a paring knife). Drain and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.
  3. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, slice them on the diagonal and place them in a large bowl. Add the ham, peas, cornichons, scallions, dill, and parsley to the bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, creme fraiche, and olive oil. Stir well to combine the ingredients.
  5. Pour the dressing over the potato salad and stir gently (so that you don’t break up the potatoes) to coat and combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

Nutritional analysis based on 8 servings (does not include salt and pepper to taste):
Calories 267, Fat 11g, Sodium 551mg, Carbohydrate 35g, Fiber 6g, Sugar 5g, Protein 10g

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