I’m going to continue to steal shamelessly from my mom this weekend.
Over the years, particularly as I’ve started cooking for myself and Zach, I have come to appreciate her ability to cook. Particularly her ability to cook without using recipes.
She can make delicious food rather effortlessly and rather creatively on her own. She isn’t bogged down by following exact ingredients, exact amounts, and exact processes, and I admire this.
This is not a skill I possess. Yet. But I’m determined to be able to do so confidently one day. For now, I will continue to mostly rely on recipes. I like the black and whiteness of recipes. Generally, if you follow a recipe, you’ll end up with good results. I like this. There are few things I find more frustrating than spending a lot of time making something and not having it turn out. I never learned the whole “it’s the journey” thing.
The downside to my mom generally not using recipes and making it up as she goes is that it’s a little difficult for her to pass on recipes to me. She tries to approximate amounts and times and processes, but I swear when I make her dishes myself (particularly her soups), they are never as good.
This weekend I had a hankering for her potato salad sans mayonnaise. It’s light, summery, salty, fresh, velvety, and delicious. Her secret ingredient is the leaves from the inner stalks of celery. Chopped along with some parsley, they add a really refreshing bite. The green olives add the perfect amount of saltiness. The olive oil generously coats everything and makes it glisten. And the lemon zips it all up a bit. And when you dress the potatoes while they’re still hot, they have the ability to soak up the vinaigrette in a way that potato salad made with mayonnaise just can’t compete with.
And it’s even better after it sits for a while at room temp.
Mom’s Potato Salad
1-1.5 lbs new potatoes, cooked until tender, and cut into quarters
¼ c thinly sliced celery (inner stalks)
¼ c sliced pitted green olives
¼ c chopped mixture of inner celery stalk leaves and parsley
1 clove garlic minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir together all ingredients, except the potatoes. Then add potatoes and toss.
Can be refrigerated, but I like to serve it at room temp.