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  • Megan

one-potato salad with extra crunch

Updated: May 29, 2023

In this dish:

- potato

- celery

- onion

- radishes

- mayonnaise

- mustard

- salt and pepper

I love potato salad—especially the classic American sort, with no shortage of mayo and a yellowish tinge from the kick of mustard. But until recently, I've rarely been inclined to make it myself. I had it in my head that if you make potato salad, you gotta make a big batch of it.

There’s some logic behind this: potato salad is a potluck staple—in that context, it makes sense to make it in big batches. But on a recent Sunday, I wanted only enough potato salad for two of us to slap a scoop next to a hot dog and call it dinner. I wanted one potato’s worth of salad.

What I learned felt oddly revelatory: if I want potato salad, I don’t have to boil two pounds of potatoes, hard-boil some eggs, and mince up fresh parsley. For the record, that all sounds good—but all I REALLY need, really really, is three elements: one potato, some crunchy bits, and dressing.

Let’s break it down:

One Potato

Go with Yukon Gold or similar (I used a Russet in the video; it works, but YG is better). Chop it into cubes and dump into a pot of SALTED boiling water.

Let me belabor this: the water you cook the potato in lays the foundation of flavor in your salad. If the potatoes don’t get enough salt from this water, no amount of salt added later can save you. I bring my water to a boil and then dump in nearly a quarter cup of coarse kosher salt. It should taste like the ocean.

After about eight minutes in the boiling water, start to test your potatoes. Pull out a hot cube and take a bite. You want it to be just cooked through, but still satisfyingly firm. If the cubes aren't ready yet, continue to test them every minute or two with a sense of dogged paranoia, for overcooking your potatoes is just as grave an error as under-salting your cooking water. But like, be cool because your potatoes will sense your fear.

That's the end of the Thou shalts, I swear. If you come out with nicely flavored, well-cooked potatoes, the rest is pie.

Crunchy Bits

Crunchy bits! I used two stalks of celery, about a third of a red onion (white is good too), and three little radishes.* This made for an extra crunchy salad. If you want more potato-heavy bites, cut the celery and onion amounts in half.

*The radishes were a fun addition because I had them on hand, but they aren’t essential like the celery and onion.


Mayo and mustard.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of sugar for some acid and sweetness. But again, I’m talking about what it is you rrrrrreally need. For my one-potato salad, I combined about a quarter cup of mayo and a half tablespoon of mustard (plus salt and pepper, of course).

Let There Be Salad

When the potatoes are drained and still a little warm, toss them in a big bowl with the dressing and chopped crunchy bits. Season with a little more salt and pepper, and then let the whole beast cool and collect itself in the fridge. When you pull it out later, say in a booming voice to your cat, "LET THERE BE SALAD."

And there will be salad.


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