When I was growing up and learning to cook I knew only three kinds of potatoes. Baking potatoes, boiling potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Large brown russet potatoes were baking potatoes and belonged with Sunday dinner and holidays, but the leftovers could be made into home fries. Boiling potatoes with thinner skins were for pot roast or potato salad or mashed potatoes. Leftover mashed potatoes could become potato patties. Sweet potatoes were in a different category all together: could be baked or boiled, served with ham usually. That was the extent of my potato knowledge for a long time.
All of that changed in a big way when I met Don Ordiorne aka “Dr. Potato” from the Idaho Potato Commission. In 2012 I attended my first Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit at the invitation of the Idaho Potato Commission, and participated in a scavenger hunt for food bloggers to visit potato growers from Idaho who were exhibiting at the conference. This is where I met Dr. Potato. He introduced us to a whole new world of potatoes and potato recipes! I was surprised to see that Idaho potato growers had so many different sizes and colors of potatoes. Meeting the farmers and seeing the imaginative ways they were marketing their crops sparked my interest in learning more about how potatoes are grown in Idaho.
Last fall I was thrilled to be part of the Idaho Potato Harvest Tour, a 5 day potato immersion experience in Idaho for food bloggers and dietitians hosted by the Idaho Potato Commission. If you missed my posts about that spectacular trip, you can find them here. I learned that many different varieties of potatoes are available in stores, and began to really notice what I was buying when I chose a bag of potatoes. Now when I see a display of loose potatoes, I want to know where they were grown and what variety they are. If it’s a russet potato, I want to know if it’s a Norkota or a Russet Burbank. If it’s a thin-skinned potato I look for different colors and special varieties, not just “red” or “yellow” or “purple”.
One of the sponsors at Camp Blogaway this year was Potandon, a national leader in potato and onion marketing whose brand you may recognize as Green Giant for fresh potatoes and onions. I remembered seeing Potandon at the Fresh Summit in 2012, because their booth was so creative and fun: a diner with one of the characters from the Happy Days television show! Potandon is a sales agent for potatoes from Idaho, Arizona, Washington, North Dakota, and Oregon. This year they sponsored a photo contest for attendees at Camp Blogaway , and Rebekah Clark from Potandon gave an educational presentation about the company and their products. Potandon has a product called Klondike Gourmet Medley Potatoes, a mixture of baby potatoes in one bag: red, yellow, and purple. I could have taken a few of those potatoes home for the photo contest, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to find Green Giant potatoes in local grocery stores.
I had some trouble finding different varieties that I knew were Green Giant brand until I finally discovered a huge display at an Albertsons grocery store. Truly a mother-lode of potatoes! Every bag had Green Giant on it, so I knew these were the ones from Potandon. I bought 5 bags of potatoes to try out: a bag of Russet Burbanks, a bag of Klondike Rose and one bag of Klondike Gold Dust, a bag of mini potatoes called “Smileys”, and a bag of Red potatoes too. I thought it would be a great idea to make a potato salad with several different varieties instead of just one.
I ended up using the Red, Klondike Rose, and Klondike Gold Dust potatoes in my salad. I boiled them with skins on until they were tender. Then I cut them into very thin slices for the potato salad. I doubt that anyone who tasted my potato salad would guess that there were three different varieties instead of one. I half expected to find out that one potato was a bit firmer than the others, but that wasn’t the case. Even the colors of the cooked potatoes were very similar. My potato salad was delicious and I loved being able to showcase five different potato varieties in the photo I submitted to the contest. (No, my photo wasn’t a winner, but my family was because they enjoyed all that yummy potato salad and everyone got to try out the different varieties of potatoes.)
I’m on the lookout for those Klondike Gourmet Medley potatoes. Wouldn’t it be fun to make potato salad with those colors? Potato salad is becoming a new adventure with all the potato varieties we can choose from now. If you’re looking for more information or have questions about potato salad, check out Dr . Potato’s guide to all things potato salad!
Do you have a special recipe for potato salad? Summer is the time for potato salad, and I’d love to try your recipes too! Tell us about your recipes for potato salad in the comments below.
- 12 medium Idaho potatoes, boiled until tender and thinly sliced (cut in quarters to hasten cooking)
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- ¾ cup good mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1//4 cup ranch dressing
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- Slice the cooked potatoes into a mixing bowl with the hardboiled eggs, onion, and celery.
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sour cream, and ranch dressing.
- Pour the dressing onto the potatoes, eggs, onion and celery.
- Top with green onions, salt, pepper, paprika.
- Stir until all the ingredients are coated with the dressing and the seasonings are well distributed.