As with many foods, there are numerous variations on Potato Salad. As Wikipedia tells us:
It is a popular menu choice of cooks preparing food for a large number of people, because it is easily made in large quantities, it can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until needed, and requires inexpensive ingredients.
[In the United States,] Potato salad is often served with barbecue, roasts, hot dogs, fried chicken, hamburgers and cold sandwiches. Although it is enjoyed any time of year in the United States, it is commonly associated with summer and picnics. White and/or red potatoes are commonly used; it is customary to leave a bit of the skin on red potatoes—especially when Americans make it German-style.
Basic ingredients for traditional American potato salad include: cubed, boiled potatoes (typically russet potatoes), mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-like substitute such as yogurt or sour cream, yellow mustard and/or mustard powder (dry mustard), black pepper, salt, celery seed, sugar, dry dill, chopped pickles (pickled cucumber), chives, finely chopped red or white onion, chopped green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced/finely chopped celery and sometimes chopped hard-boiled egg whites (usually one egg per batch of salad). Vegetable ingredients (not including the potatoes) are incorporated raw and never cooked. The salad is often topped with paprika and chives, and generally served cold or room temperature.
I myself have several variations, including an Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad, a garden potato salad (it has lots of additional veggies), a baked potato salad I make with fat-free Greek yogurt instead of the more traditional sour cream, and a German-style potato salad. But when it’s just hubby and me or just a small crowd, I sometimes want a smaller, easier batch of potato salad.
And that’s where those boxes of dehydrated potato casserole mixes come in! You know the kind I’m talking about: the box contains dehydrated potatoes and a seasoning packet, and there are typically a variety of flavors available, such as scalloped, au gratin, baked potato, and so forth. You add boiling water, milk, and a bit of butter. Me being me, of course, I use reduced-fat milk (typically 1% or 2%) and cut back a bit on the butter.
Inspired by a recipe on the back of a box of a store-brand of boxed potatoes, I make a potato salad from it, and let me tell you — it was tasty, relatively easy (no slicing, dicing, or peeling of the potatoes!), and it can be a fun, easy way to vary up the flavor of your potato salad.
Also, it only makes about 5 to 6 servings, so it’s perfect for a smaller group, such as when it’s just my hubby and me (it gives us potato salad for a couple or three meals).
- The recipe is based on a boxed casserole mix that provides 5 (1/2 cup) servings. If your mix has more or less, adjust the recipe amounts accordingly.
- I’ve made this with scalloped potato casserole mix, sour cream and chives potato casserole mix, jalapeno cheddar potato casserole mix, and Applewood smoked bacon potato casserole mix — it’s really fun to mix up the flavors.
- Vary the add-ins to suit your tastes, what you have available, and what you think will best complement the base flavor of the casserole mix.
- I used the same pan for all the steps: cooking the potatoes, hard boiling the eggs, and then mixing the seasoning packet.
So go ahead — the next time you find yourself craving some ‘tater salad, but you wanna take it easy on yourself, don’t be afraid to cheat. 😉 And don’t worry, there’s no need for your heart to feel guilty. 😉
Easy Potato Salad (Serves 5 to 6)
- 1 box (5-serving size) potato casserole mix (e.g., scalloped, au gratin, sour cream and chives, whatever flavor you choose)
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon oil (suggest canola oil)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (or 3 tablespoons, if you want it tarter)
- 1/4 cup light salad dressing (such as light Miracle Whip) or reduced-fat mayonnaise (I eyeball it)
- Squirt of yellow mustard (approximately 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon)
- 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- Sliced celery to taste (1 or 2 stalks)
- Other additions as desired, such as chopped onion, chopped chives, chopped green onion, radish slices, grated carrot, crumbled bacon, etc.
- Coarse ground black pepper to taste
- Paprika (if desired)
- Empty potato slices into a saucepan. Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for approximately 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse gently in cold water until cool enough to handle. Drain, place in bowl, and refrigerate.
- Mix together the seasoning packet, 1/2 cup water, and the oil. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil (it will begin to thicken). Remove from heat and cool. (I rested my pan in a sink with cold water.)
- Once cooled, stir the salad dressing or mayonnaise, the vinegar, and the mustard into the seasoned sauce. Add in coarse ground black pepper to taste.
- Gently toss together the potatoes, hard boiled egg, celery and any other desired additions (onions, chives, pickles, crumbled bacon, whatever), and the dressing.
- If desired, sprinkle the top of the salad with paprika and/or crumbled bacon. Or, if you prefer, reserve one of the hard boiled eggs and use sliced or diced hard boiled egg as part of the garnish, or sprinkle with some chopped chives or green onions — really, whatever you like that seems to fit with the flavors of the salad.
- Refrigerate leftovers.