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Summer Recipe: Pat's Yellow Potato Salad

Elsie Callahan PhillipsThis has been a mainstay of summer eating since I can remember. I grew up in Nebraska where summer meals were pretty standard: Steak, potato salad, corn on the cob. Usually there was strawberry shortcake, ice cream, or cobbler for dessert, but other than those choices the meals were fairly uniform.

This recipe was passed down to me from my paternal grandmother (seen in the photo), and I in turn passed the potato salad habit onto our daughters, the older of whom has carried it with her wherever she is in the world. She served it for her birthday while she was in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and now makes it in Rome where she’s living with her husband and twins. (Our younger daughter, despite living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the foodie capitals of the world, refuses to cook, so only eats potato salad when I make it.)

At any rate, here’s the recipe:

6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces, boiled until soft enough to pierce with a fork

4-6 eggs, boiled in the shell, and then peeled and chopped

3-4 stalks of celery, chopped

2-3 dill pickles, chopped

4-5 sweet pickles, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

yellow mustard of choice

salt and pepper to taste

The trick to the smoothness of this potato salad relies in when the ingredients are mixed. While the potatoes and eggs are cooking together in a pot, chop the other ingredients (celery, onion, and pickles) and put in a deep bowl. Drain the potatoes when a fork easily pierces the largest chunk. Drain the potatoes. Pour the drained potatoes over the chopped ingredients in the bowl. Peel and chop the eggs and add them to the bowl. Let everything sit a minute or two without stirring. In a sense, you’re “cooking” the ingredients with the hot potatoes and eggs.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the contents of the bowl. Add enough mayo and mustard to make stirring the potato salad somewhat easy. I have never measured the salt, pepper, mayo or mustard, so all I can say is these are added to taste. But remember the name tells it all: YELLOW potato salad. If it’s not a medium mustard yellow, it’s not my potato salad. It can be as creamy or chunky as you want.

Enjoy! And have a happy summer.

–Pat Henshaw


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08/01/2013 8:47 pm

The recipe is very familiar to me, too. I just wanted to say – what a lovely pic of your Nana!

08/01/2013 7:21 pm

Your recipe is “almost” identical to the one I use for potato salad. A few differences—I cool the potatoes, use relish instead of sweet pickles and no dills. But as CindyS said, mustard is key and makes all the difference. Oh, and I use the light Miracle Whip.

08/01/2013 12:17 pm

Our grandmothers must have known one another. This is almost the exact recipe handed down in MY family!!! Most of the time I leave off the celery, but if I have it in stock I will put it in the potato salad too.

08/01/2013 10:30 am

Okay, the pickle part is interesting to say the least!

And the flavour really changes between Miracle Whip (sweeter) and Mayo (I use mayo). And then I use those little bulb onions (you buy in a bunch white on the bottom with green stems – for years I only put in the chopped green part because I forgot the bottoms were actually onions – duh!)

The mustard part is key though. I also need a more ‘yellow’ potato salad.

Thanks Pat!