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Spud Sunday: Potato Salad On My Mind

Some would say that’s it’s about time.

Some would say that it’s way past time.

And many of you will simply wonder how it happened that I have not presented you with a potato salad before this.

It’s not like I haven’t been eating them – it’s one of the great things to do with new season potatoes. Just boil ’em, chop ’em up, add mayonnaise and/or natural yoghurt, maybe a bit of mustard, some chives or spring onions, parsley or dill, possibly a few capers, salt, pepper and away you go. I guess I didn’t think that you really needed me to tell you how to do that. The salad that I have here is a little different to the usual, though, not least because I had to go on a long journey to find it. All the way to Russia, in fact.

St Basils, Moscow

To Russia, with onion domes

Ok, I will admit that I didn’t actually travel to Russia to find a potato salad, but that’s where I first sampled Georgian food. And by that I mean food from Georgia the country, due south of Russia, and not the Georgia that Ray Charles and others had on their minds.

Potato Salad, Georgian style

Potato Salad, Georgian style

Now, whereas it can sometimes feel that Russian dining is all about vodka and pickles, Georgian cuisine has more of a middle eastern feel and, without question, the nicest meals that I had in Russia were Georgian. So enamoured of the food was I that I secured a copy of The Georgian Feast, Darra Goldstein’s wonderful exploration of Georgian food culture, so that I could find out more. More, in this case, included potato salad.

Georgian Potato Salad

Walnuts are a very common ingredient in Georgian cuisine and this is adapted from a recipe for potatoes & walnuts included in The Georgian Feast. Instead of grinding raw garlic with the walnuts as in the original recipe, I prefer to cook the garlic in with the onions. I also add some natural yoghurt to make a slightly moister dish.

You’ll need:
  • 450g potatoes, preferably a firm, waxy variety
  • 150g onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 100g walnuts
  • 2 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tblsp chopped fresh herbs – parsley, dill or a mixture of both
  • 2 tblsp natural yoghurt
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
The Steps:
  • First scrub the potatoes and boil or steam them in their skins. Depending on size, this may take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain (if they were boiled), cover the pot with a tea towel and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, you can peel the potatoes if you like (or leave the skins on if that’s what you prefer). Cut them roughly into whatever size chunks you’d like in your salad.
  • Meanwhile, place a pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Then add the onion and garlic, stir and fry until softened, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a spice grinder or food processor, grind the walnuts until they resemble fine crumbs.
  • Combine the ground walnuts with the red wine vinegar, herbs, yoghurt and cooked onion mixture. Season to taste with coarse salt and black pepper.
  • Toss the walnut mixture with the potato chunks. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed or add more yoghurt if you like.
  • I suspect that you don’t need any further instructions on how you should now go about eating your potato salad.
The Variations:
  • To make something closer to the original version, grind the raw garlic with the walnuts instead of cooking them with the onion. Add yoghurt or not to the salad, depending on how moist you want it to be.
  • A little lemon zest is a nice addition to this.
The Results:
  • Salad portions for around 4 people, in theory anyway. It won’t take me four sittings to eat this amount by myself.

14 Comments

  1. That really goes looks like a different way of doing the potato salad. Yum!! I’ve got to try that.

  2. Never heard this Georgian style potato salad before. I make potato salad so often for breakfast or as a side dish for dinner. I generally make it with hard boiled eggs, and I can’t wait trying walnuts and yogurt on it now.

  3. I did wonder when you were going to post a potato salad post and confess that I love its the potato salad of Georgian variety. We have a Georgian deli a few blocks away and the make some tasty stuff, but trying to get a list of ingredients of the tasty dishes and suddenly the guy behind the counter and I are linguistically challenged. Hmm – now I know. Thanks so much for solving the mystery,

  4. Yum:) For my potato salad, I always toss the cut potatoes w/vinegar while still hot so it soaks in. Like this walnut idea–now it’s putting me in mind of a sort of pesto potato salad w/pinenuts, garlic and basil. Could be good. Italian by way of Georgia. Or is it Georgia by way of Italy?

    And, I’m with you–I think your ingredient amounts would feed me maybe once. :)

  5. What a delicious potato salad! I love the walnuts and abundance of fresh herbs in it.

  6. Ground walnuts, butter, onions, garlic…YUM, I can’t wait to try this. Such a cool spin on one of my favorite dishes!

  7. Daily Spud

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    jenn: it caught my eye because it was definitely different to the usual potato salad – different in a very tasty way :)

    zerrin: hope you like it!

    OysterCulture: if you got hold of a copy of Darra Goldstein’s book, you would completely rumble your deli-keeper as to what goes into his Georgian goodies, lol

    Jenni: oh pesto with spuds is perfectly allowable and it doesn’t much matter which way you get there :) In fact I have some homemade rocket (arugula) pesto in the fridge that might go nicely with some roast potato wedges….

    Reeni: I’m all for lots of fresh herbs – I’d happily put in even more than I’ve specified here

    Phyllis: do give it a whirl; if you add the lemon zest and even more parsley, it starts to take off in the direction of tabbouleh, which is always a good direction to go :)

  8. All good salads need nuts – it’s a good rule I think. This potato salad sounds great

  9. Those taters look delicious in every way. It’s all about the fresh herbs!

  10. I am giddy over this morsel of a recipe, and thanks for sharing with us! I love potato salad, and have been craving it and chicken salad…summery yummy foods!

  11. I never even considered the existence of Georgian cuisine and the fact that it is reminiscent of Middle Eastern flavors is really cool! I’ve never had a potato salad with nuts but being ground so fine, it sounds like it would add to a creamy texture. This is definitely going on the ‘to-make’ list!

  12. This is really a superb way to have an easy and quick potato salad. Loved the idea, but as we Indians like a little more spice in everything we consume, I think I’ll put in some more spices or a little pickle oil at least while preparing it.

  13. sounds like the perfect nutritious potato salad. I’m not a big fan of the one with mayo. Yours sounds delicious with the fresh herbs, Greek yogurt and walnut. Can’t wait to give this a try

  14. Lucy: thanks and I’m with you on the nuts in salads thing for sure

    Duo Dishes: yeah, I could add a ton more parsley to this and probably still call for more :)

    Chef E: you’re welcome – hope I’ve helped to satisfy that craving!

    Tangled Noodle: if you get a chance to try out Georgian food (I mean other than this salad), I highly recommend it

    Sudeshna: feel free to spice it up however you’d like to – there are no hard and fast potato salad rules!

    Jackie: it really does make an interesting change from the usual

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