This fun twist on a classic potato salad is from Ranch Guest Chef and James Beard Award winner Raghavan Iyer. It’s a perfect backyard party cocktail and appetizer all in one. We enjoyed it with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil but you can substitute that for a splash of your favorite rum, for a tropical mojito party pleaser. Chef Iyer will be teaching at The Ranch July 15 – 21, 2017.
Excerpted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked–and Fried, Too! by Raghavan Iyer (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2016.
This stunning potato salad, which goes beyond the boundaries of those that are creamy or vinegar based, can be your cocktail for the evening. Boozy, bold, and anything but bland, the flavors in a summery mojito cocktail that appeal to my 5:00 p.m. sensibilities bring these fingerling potatoes to life. Take this to your Fourth of July festivities and watch the fireworks ignite all around you.
1 pound assorted fingerling potatoes (a mix of purple, red, and white)
4 small Key limes, each cut in half, or 1 large lime, cut into 8 wedges
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon unrefined granulated sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons of fruity extra virgin olive oil or ¼ cup white rum
½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds*
- Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring it to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. As the water comes to a boil, scrub the potatoes under running water. Cut them into 1-inch pieces and add them to the boiling water. Lower the heat to medium and cook the potatoes at a brisk simmer or gentle boil, uncovered, until tender when pierced with a fork or knife but still firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
- While the potatoes cook, pile the limes, mint, sugar, pepper, and salt in a deep mortar. Pound the herbaceous medley with the pestle to release the juices from the limes and the essential oils from the mint. Remove and discard the lime shells. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, squeeze the limes and briefly pulse the herbaceous mix in a food processor. Stir in the olive oil or rum.
- As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool them down a bit. Leave the potatoes a little warm to the touch, as they will absorb the flavors much better.
- Transfer the potatoes to a medium-size bowl and scrape the muddled ingredients over them. Add the pomegranate seeds and give it all a good stir.
- Let the salad stand for an hour or so to allow the flavors to boogie. Serve at room temperature. If you prefer, you can also serve it chilled.
*Raghavan’s pomegranate seed tip
Everyone has a way of removing the seeds from a fresh pomegranate, some easier than others. I often buy pomegranates (firm, all hues of red, apple-like) by the case, usually six to a box, and peel the fruit to get to the seeds. It takes about an hour of my time but then I am rewarded—and so is my son, who is a fanatic when it comes to the seeds—with a gigantic bowl of juicy, nutty, succulent, ruby-red seeds that both of us can eat by the spoonful. To get the seeds out of a pomegranate, here’s what I do: I fill a large, deep bowl halfway with tap water. I cut the fruit in half lengthwise (through that glorious crown stem), and then cut each half in half again lengthwise. Working with one quarter at a time, I turn it inside out under water in a large bowl, so the seeds and flesh are pushed out, like a puffed-up penguin chest. Using my fingers, I cajole the seeds out of their flimsy off-white cell-like house. The succulent seeds, heavy with sweet juices, sink to the bottom and any papery membranes float to the top. Once finished, I skim off the flotsam from the surface and drain the seeds into a colander.