In my family, my father has always been the maker of potato salad. Whenever there is a family gathering in the summer he inevitably brings the potato salad. Never one to use a recipe, he concocts an ever evolving array of the summer staple…never really making the same one twice.
Eating my dad’s potato salad has turned into an adventure.
They started years ago just as any other potato salad does; with lots of potatoes. I seem to remember he favored the german style at first, then moved on to one heavy on the hard boiled eggs. But, over the years they have developed into something entirely different; one year prompting my family members to proclaim “This is potato salad? Where are the potatoes?!” He continues to this day to create these almost potato-less salads for all of our summer activities. And the running family joke has become “Where are the potatoes!?” every time we eat it.
Recently, while on a visit home to Michigan, I asked my dad if I could take a swing at creating his famous salad. The secret is to use as many fresh, local, and homegrown veggies and herbs as possible…and very few potatoes! To create this beautiful summer salad I took a trip to the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers’ Market in Traverse City Michigan, and a shorter trip to my dad’s vegetable garden. I simply purchased every beautiful herb or vegetable I saw (I got there at the tail end of the market) and threw them in a huge salad bowl. The one thing I did change is the dressing. My dad literally uses a bit of each salad dressing in the fridge until he get the flavor just right. I wanted something that would take a back seat to the freshly picked produce, so I went for simple oil and vinegar.
While my recipe has exact measurements, I encourage you to mix it up and try other things that are in season near you. This really is so simple and fresh, and the herbs give most of the amazing flavor. The only ingredients that don’t come directly out of the garden are the salt, oil and vinegar. Let me know what mixtures you come up with!
4 cups small new potatoes (mixture of red skin, gold, and purple looks prettiest, but any will do)
1 cup sliced carrots
1 pepper (I used purple, but any color will do, or mix colors)
1 1/2 cup sliced baby cucumbers (pickling size)
2 cups broccoli
1 cup peas (I did half snow peas, half shelled peas)
1 cup onions
1 cup green onions
1 cup rough chopped dill
1 cup rough chopped basil
1/2 cup rough chopped parsley
1/2 cup rough chopped carrot greens
1 1/2 cup sliced or chopped beets
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
layer all ingredients but the vinegar, oil and salt in a large serving bowl. Right before serving add the vinegar, oil and salt and fold together. Serve immediately.*
*note: You can mix beforehand, but if you are using purple beets they will turn the whole salad pink. Some people like this look. If you don’t use beets or use golden beets you will not get a pink salad and can mix it ahead of serving.