I often daydream about the creamy potato salad my grandmother was known for. It was totally Southern. Slathered in Duke’s mayonnaise (the only suitable brand), the balance of sweet pickle with bites of yellow mustard all came together for the perfect picnic salad. Well, except on those painfully hot summer days.
Over the years, I’ve found other ways to enjoy potato salad, especially while teaching kids healthier options. We make homemade vinegar based dressings to dress our hot red spuds, adding some chopped green onion for bite and some fresh herbs for brightness.
But I had never ever thought of making a Mexican potato salad. That was way beyond my potato salad comfort zone. That is, until I discovered tomatillos while cooking in California. Last summer as I was building the Joyful 12, I realized that tomatillos were a summer favorite in the local markets. I was shy to also admit that I knew nothing about them other than the fact that I loved their zingy flavor in green sauces and pre-made tomatillo salsas. But that all changed when I wanted to teach kids how to love them. I mean what’s more fun than a sticky green tomato that grows in a husk?
So I dove in and conducted a thorough internet search before jumping into my test kitchen. Here’s what I discovered. I’d been missing out all this time. Almost like a painter that’s short a primary color in their palette, I found tomatillos to be a primary summer flavor enhancer.
Plus, for the busy families I teach and the kiddos that cook with me, keeping it simple when introducing new ingredients is a priority. Tomatillos turned out to be amazingly easy to work with. Literally, within 2 minutes of being blanched in salty boiling water, they cook enough to release their bright citrus flavors. And roasting them is just as easy–cut in halves and broiled for 10 minutes to char the skin. You don’t even need to remove their seeds!
I started putting them into everything…guacamole, chili, and especially my potato salad vinaigrette! But just to keep things slightly Southern, since that’s how I’ll always view a good potato salad, I threw in some crunchy summer corn to make my potato salad even sweeter.
For your 4th of July celebrations, feel good knowing our potato salad is mayo free, gluten free, and boring free–especially for those hot summer celebrations! Wishing you and your family a safe and joyful celebration on our nation’s Independence Day. -Chef Hollie
If you want to learn how to make more recipes with tomatillos, and our other eight vegetables we’re exploring this summer in the Joyful 12 learning lab, join us.
- small red potatoes, about 2 lbs
- tomatillos, medium sized, 3
- lime, 1
- cilantro (fresh), 2 cups
- olive oil, 1/3 cup
- dijon mustard, 2 tsp
- ground cumin, 1/2 tsp
- salt, 4 tsp (divided)
- green onions, 1 bunch
- corn on the cob, 2 cobs
- black pepper, 1/4 tsp
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce.
- Place potatoes, whole, in a pot and cover with cold water. Add one teaspoon salt to the cold water. Bring water up to a simmer. Once the water starts simmering, start your timer for 15 minutes.
- To blanch the tomatillos, bring four cups salty water (about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt) up to a boil, in a separate pot. While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel the husks from the tomatillos and rinse the sticky substance off under cold water.
- When the salty water is boiling, place the whole, peeled tomatillos in the water for two minutes. Set up an ice water bath.
- Remove tomatillos and shock in the ice water bath. Set aside.
- Cut corn off cob into a large bowl.
- For the green onions, pull out three and cut off the white bottoms. You will use them to make the vinaigrette. Cut the remaining green onions, green and white parts, into thin slices and add to the corn.
- After fifteen minutes of cooking, test the potatoes with a knife to see if it can easily enter the potato.
- Drain from water and cover with a towel. They will stay warm and keep steaming while you make the vinaigrette.
- Make the vinaigrette: put into a blender the blanched tomatillos, juice and zest of the lime, cilantro, olive oil, dijon mustard, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and the white bottoms of three of the green onions.
- Pulse in the blender until smooth. Add to the corn and green onions in the bowl.
- Cut the potatoes into quarters, once they are cool enough to touch.
- Toss potatoes with corn, green onions, tomatillo vinaigrette, another 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.