Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Daring Cooks' Challenge - Potato Salad

This month's Daring Cooks' Challenge was a little different than usual, and you will partially see why with the blog check lines...

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-sized (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Now, I love potatoes. I think they are versatile, tasty and easy to incorporate into all kinds of meals. We eat them baked, boiled, mashed, pan fried, oven fried, plain, topped, hot, cold... you get the point. So you would think that this challenge would have been right up my alley. And, in a way, it was - a chance to showcase the potato and be creative all at the same time.

But I also was a little... well... uninspired. Another contest challenge.

See, one of the reasons that I joined the Daring Kitchen was for the fact that the challenges were non-competitive. That the community is one that is completely supportive of all members, and where cooks and bakers of all levels could come together and learn every month. To have two challenges with a competitive/contest aspect to them so close together (remember the edible container contests?), well, it took a little of the steam out of my enthusiasm for the challenge.

Not to say that I didn't have ideas - I did! I just dragged my feet a bit on actually attempting to execute any of those ideas.

As a result, I actually only made one potato salad during this challenge month, despite the fact that I'd really wanted to try two or three (meaning, I actually had three specific ideas, not just that I'd wanted to try three at random...).
Since the focus of this challenge (contest) was to try to create a healthier alternative to the traditional mayonnaise-heavy potato salad, I decided to make a salad chock full of fresh, colorful vegetables. And, to make the salad as flavorful as possible with as light a dressing as possible, I decided that my potatoes (and veggies) would be roasted, rather than boiled, since boiling can remove some of the flavor and nutrients.

I started with red potatoes, which I cut into medium sized chunks and tossed onto a baking sheet. I then roughly cut a red onion and added it to the oil-sprayed pan. Then, going through the fridge to see what looked good, I added roughly cut fresh broccoli, green beans and baby carrots, as well as some smashed garlic cloves. I have to say, at this point, my pan looked pretty, well, pretty. And tasty!

I tossed all of the vegetables in a very light drizzle of olive oil, then added a very light sprinkling of coarse salt and pepper. And a touch of paprika. Because we like paprika in our house.

The pan then went into a 350 degree oven, where it stayed until the potatoes were well roasted and easily pierced with a fork.

As the veggies cooked, I concentrated on the dressing for my salad. Again, with a focus on the fresh flavors of the vegetables, and knowing that the goal here was to create a healthy salad, I decided to try a basic vinaigrette as my dressing. I started with some balsamic vinegar, into which I whisked a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I didn't measure anything, just went by feel and by taste. I then added a little sprinkle of ground mustard, just for some extra kick.

Once the vegetables came out of the oven, I transferred them to a bowl and carefully tossed the still warm (okay, hot!) veggies with the dressing. And then... well, I was done! The result was pretty good, though not anything outstanding. I enjoyed it, daddy thought it was okay and, well, little miss had no interest in tasting it. At all.

This warm roasted potato salad made a nice combination starch/veggie side dish to dinner, but won't soon replace the standard potato salad at a picnic or barbecue.

I will definitely try some of the other ideas that had floated around in my head (including a sweet, almost dessert-y sweet potato salad idea...), and appreciate the spirit of this challenge, even if my motivation due to the contest aspect was not where it usually is.

Jami, thank you so much for being such a supportive, helpful and enthusiastic host for this month's challenge!

To see some of the creative potato salads cooked up in the Daring Kitchen this month, check the out here.


  1. Yummy, love all the components of your potato salad! Great job on this challenge!

  2. That looks so tasty. I love big pans stuffed with colourful vegetables, and the roasted kind are the very best.

  3. Love the roasted potato salad. I know what you mean about the back to back challenges too - for some reason it feels like a lot more work :-)

  4. That is one amazing salad shelly..I love all the components and flavors in it

  5. I love a big pan of roasted veggies, so this sounds delicious to me. Maybe with a bit of crumbled goat cheese on top? I wasn't crazy about the contest either, and in fact I'm not crazy about potatoes, but I did get a little something made.

  6. Hi Shelley, I agree on the contest thing - but in our typical approach, we chose to just ignore it, just like we ignore the recipes the hosts usually provide. Guess team monkeyshines gets an F for playing well with others..

    But contest or none, your idea for roasted potato salad looks fantastic! Sorry it didn't make the heart sing.

  7. Yea, I'm not into the contest aspect either. Just made a potato salad with what I had and what I wanted to eat. Fun challenge. Certainly wasnt a toughie!

  8. Geeeeeeorgeous! So colorful =D Great job!


  9. Sorry to know that it wasn't exactly what you expected but it looks delicious to me! And healthy! I almost skipped this challenge, so my last minute accomplishment was far from being very healthy hehe

  10. Pity Little Miss didn't want to try it - it looks perfect for kids - so healthy.
    I agree with you on the contest thing - it makes me feel very inadequate!
    Lou. x

  11. Colorful and certainly delicious!
    Great Job!

  12. Shelly, I love your roasted veggie potato salad so much - beautiful and colorful, and the balsamic dressing...yum! I agree with you on the contest 'competitive' thing. There's already so much cutthroat competitiveness in the food blogging world - I loved the safe, supportive, community confines of the Daring Kitchen. I hope it doesn't change things.

  13. It looks beautiful and healthy too. Sorry to hear it didn't wow you but I'll take it; I'm a vegetable lover and I will surely enjoy it.:)


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