This recipe came about by accident – it was one of those things that my mother made for years but morphed into my mother-in-law’s recipe. Talk about inter-family competition. Not really. Both my husband and I came from modest backgrounds and our mothers were faced with learning how to really stretch a dollar while still keeping hungry children satisfied. That meant very simple meals consisting mostly of overcooked meat, canned vegetables (frozen veggies were not as prolific or as good as they are today) and recipes designed to stick to your ribs, high in fat and carbs. And guess what, we survived. Those recipes, for the most part, are what we now call comfort food and are the types of things we make sparingly, often when we feel we need a good hug.
This is one of those recipes and yet it has an interesting twist, one that when I first heard about it I said yuck! My mom had a very basic potato salad recipe. My dad was not one for a lot of spices, he hated garlic (said it upset his stomach) and mostly enjoyed very bland-type meals. And considering this recipe does not have a lot of ingredients it is quite flavorful. The twist, thanks to my mother-in-law, was adding tomatoes to it. Yes, I said adding tomatoes. I’ve not seen many people, if any, add tomatoes to potato salad but if you’ve never tried it I think you might be in for a real treat. So here is my rating and lessons learned after many years of making Tomato Potato Salad.
Rating A – so easy to make, very colorful and flavorful. You will be amazed at how many people will be surprised by adding tomatoes but say it adds a wonderful flavor and consistency to potato salad.
Lesson Learned 2: There is a trick to adding tomatoes. I always use roma tomatoes. I normally find that they are firmer with less seeds and more flesh and that is what you want. You need to scrape out the seeds and soft matter so that all you’re left with is the flesh. That way you get the tomato flavor but not the moisture. If you don’t do this you will wind up with watery potato salad, and you don’t want that.
Lesson Learned 3: Err on the side of more eggs than less. I usually use one large or extra large egg for every potato with 2 extra eggs to slice and add to the top. It depends on the size of the potatoes. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe you need to make sure that you have enough eggs and green onions to provide the flavor.
Lesson Learned 4: Rinse the eggs for a long time under cold water after you boil them. I usually rinse them for 5 minutes and then I let them sit in an ice bath for about 5 minutes. If you do this the shells will easily come off. If you don’t you will struggle with removing the shells.
Lesson Leaned 5: Err on the side of more green onions than less, at least when you are chopping them. This is truly a recipe of sight versus exact amount. For this particular recipe I chopped 6 green onions. I did not use all of them but I used most of them. I eyeballed it. When you mix it, if the color looks proportional and not too little or too much green – then you’ve got it. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now and saying this does little to help me understand the exact amount. Hopefully the pictures will give you and idea. Just remember you can always add more onions but you can’t take them away. And green onions have a much milder flavor so even if you add a little too much I don’t think it will hurt. Also chop and use the green as well as the white parts of the onion. Personally I think the green part has a better flavor.
Lesson Learned 6: Try to, if you can, boil potatoes that are the same size. Then the boiling time becomes more consistent. In the picture to the left you can see that two of my potatoes were much larger than the others. Because of that I had to watch to make sure I took the smaller potatoes out earlier. Otherwise I would have had mushy small potatoes and evenly cooked large ones. You don’t want that. It’s also important to let the potatoes cool to room temperature before you peel them. This is perhaps the most lengthy part of the process, but I found it is so much easier to remove the skin and cut them up if the potatoes are room temperature.
The recipe is deceptively simple but I guarantee you that, especially after you’ve eaten a lot of pre-prepared store bought potato salad, you will enjoy making this for its simplicity and you will definitely love its flavor. Enjoy!
Tomato Potato Salad
5 medium to large red or yukon gold potatoes (if using yukon gold you don’t need to peel them)
7-8 large or extra large eggs, depending on the size of the potatoes (2 eggs are for garnish)
1 bunch of green onions (you will probably use 80% of them)
2 firm roma tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise (again to taste – start with 1/2 cup and use more if you feel it is necessary, err on the side of less; reduced calorie mayo also works well)
1 TB dijon mustard (optional – I do not use it often, but it does provide some depth of flavor)
Salt and pepper – to taste
Paprika for garnish (optional)
Hard boil the eggs. (this usually takes me 15 minutes on my stove). Once cooked rinse thoroughly under cold water. Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. (I usually keep the pot covered throughout most of this process). Cook until you can pierce them with a fork (this can take anywhere from 20 to 30+ minutes depending on the size of the potatoes). Be careful not to overcook, you do not want the potatoes mushy but firmly cooked. Put them in a strainer and let them cool to room temperature.
Chop up 5-6 green onions and set aside. Peel and chop all but two of the eggs. Slice the remaining two eggs and leave for garnish.
Peel the potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch square pieces. Add the chopped eggs, green onion, mayonnaise, dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Carefully mix together so as not to mash the potatoes. Add the slice eggs on top. Chill at least for 2-3 hours.
I know this sounds deceptively simple but it is amazingly flavorful. Try it and let me know what you think.