Saturday, July 17, 2010

Crushed Potato Salad: What a Bite

I get positively giddy the moment the first new potatoes appear in the farmers' market or in my CSA basket. I particularly like them when they're small enough to be eaten in just a single bite. I roast them in olive oil with some garlic, salt, and herbs, and when they're cool enough, just pop them into my mouth. I absolutely adore the way that floury potato flavor explodes with every bite. Perfection.

Of course, once I've eaten those little roasted potatoes a number of times, and as the smallest ones get harder to find, I start looking for other ways to cook new potatoes. A couple of weeks ago, long before potato season, a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, The Wednesday Chef by Luisa Weis, caught my eye: Ottolenghi's Crushed Potatoes with Horseradish and Yogurt. (Ottolenghi is Yotam Ottolenghi, the chef-owner of four veggie-centric restaurants that are all the rage in London. He also writes a vegetarian food column in the Guardian.) I don't know what appealed to me more -- the idea of crushed  potatoes or the thought of horseradish.

While I was dying to try the recipe right away, I decided to wait until new potatoes were in. My patience was greatly rewarded. It's actually a potato salad, but it's unlike any other you've ever tasted. The horseradish (I used lots!) gives the potatoes a zingy, assertive bite, while the yogurt adds a tangy, creamy taste. The Wednesday Chef recipe was adapted from one that appeared in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. 

While Ottolenghi's original recipe calls for Greek yogurt, Weis strongly recommends against it -- she feels the salad really needs the moisture and silkiness of regular plain yogurt -- Liberté brand, if you can find it.  (See her comment/correction to the previous version of this post below.) I have the good fortune to be able to get Brookford Farm  yogurt at both the Portsmouth farmers' market and Philbrick's Fresh Market in Portsmouth. The yogurt is made in the East European style by a charming young couple, Luke and Caterina, from the milk from their herd of grass-fed Jerseys.

This potato salad is incredibly easy to make -- and it's one  you could take to a picnic without worrying about the food-poisoning potential of mayonnaise. Ottolenghi also has a website that features a number of his recipes. I suspect I'll be going back there soon for more ideas.
Potato Salad with Yogurt and Horseradish
from Wednesday's Chef, based on a recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.
Serves 4

2 1/4 pounds of new potatoes
10 ounces, plus more to taste) plain yogurt
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon, or more, of prepared ground horseradish (I used about half a bottle!)
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small box of garden cress (You could also use arugula or watercress)

1. Wash the potatoes, but don't peel them. Put them in a pan with salted water to cover, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well, transfer to a large serving bowl and, while they are still hot, crush them roughly with a fork.

2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, olive oil, horseradish, scallions, salt and pepper to taste. Pour this dressing over the hot potatoes and mix well. Adjust the seasoning, adding more horseradish or more salt. You want the dressing to be assertive - the potatoes will mellow it out. Just before serving, snip in the garden cress and mix once more.


  1. Actually, Lynn, I specifically say not to use Greek yogurt! It will give the salad a strange, dry, chalky texture and flavor. Regular yogurt is definitely the way to go! You are lucky to get such wonderful stuff, I wish I could taste it! :)

  2. Thanks for the correction, Luisa. I have revised the post. And yes, you really would love the Brookford Farm yogurt. Caterina, the young woman who makes it, grew up in East Germany (Dresden). She also makes a wonderful quark -- it's become so popular here that the local gourmet grocery store in Portsmouth carries it.