One Potato Two

Salads that dress up the early season potato and brunch dishes that reimagine them.

by Mary Bailey

In 2004, I went to Carberry, Manitoba for the 100th anniversary of Bailey Farms. Along with meeting far-flung relatives I didn’t know I had, there were speeches, hugs and pies made by the church auxiliary. Yes, there were as good as you would expect a Prairie pie to be in the middle of the summer, made by ladies who have been practising the art of pie for decades. In other words, incomparable.

My cousin made a gift of four hefty, just-picked Russet Burbank potatoes. Fragrant, covered in fine sandy loam, a treasure. I roasted them the day I got home.

The thing is, potatoes really do taste the best right after they have been dug out of the ground. Maybe that’s why the arrival of new potatoes in the markets is such a big deal.

New potatoes, called so because they have not had time to grow a proper skin, are thin-skinned (no need to peel), high in moisture and waxy-textured with a mild flavour. They are ideal for summer foods such as potato salads and roasting on the grill.

They feature in summer dishes all over the world. What would a Niçoise salad be without new potatoes? Or the East Coast shore dinner of lobster, clams, corn and new potatoes?

I asked Jenny Berkenbosch from Sundog Farms about what potatoes they grow. “We choose our potato varieties for taste and some, also, for their ability to store well in our cooler over the winter,” says Jenny.

“We grow four varieties, including purple and yellow potatoes and have a trial plot with nine or ten varieties. We always grow a waxy potato and fluffier potatoes too. I prefer later potatoes for their flavour and tenderness, but my favourite way to eat a new potato is with lots of butter and herbs.
“We really like the Cecille, which is a fingerling potato, also called red banana. These are later potatoes, coming into the stand around mid-August. The flavour is spectacular,” says Jenny.

I talked to Thea Bakker, whose family has been growing seed potatoes since 1988 near Stony Plain. Her son, Phil, started a company called Earth Apples. You may have seen their colourful stands at the Italian Centre shops in June chock full of boxes of several varieties of seed potatoes for home gardens, in manageable quantities. They make it very easy—each box identifies the variety, gives its characteristics (waxy, floury, early, late, storable or not) how to grow and how to cook. Genius!

I planted Jazzy, a yellow fingerling. Thea says they have a huge set. Fingers crossed, I’ll have potatoes, enough for me and the neighbours, come August.

Leanne’s Potato Salad
“This is a rudimentary recipe for my old-fashioned chunky potato salad.” –Leanne Smoliak

1.5 lb bag Little Potato Company Dynamic Duo potatoes, cut each potato into halves or thirds depending on size.
1 lg carrot, medium dice
6 hardboiled eggs – cut in quarters
2 stalks celery, small dice
2 pickles, fine dice
3 green onions, fine diagonal slice
½ c mayonnaise
splash of pickle juice (about 2-3 T)
1 T Brassica grainy mustard
½ t kosher salt
lots of fresh-cracked black pepper
1 T chopped fresh dill

Simmer potatoes until they are tender (about 8-10 minutes). Toss in the carrot at about the four-minute mark. (You want the carrot to still be firm but not hard.) Once cooked, chill potatoes for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, add the mayo, pickles, pickle juice, mustard, salt and pepper, fresh dill and mix. At this point, you can add anything extra you want – fine diced red pepper, additional herbs, paprika, etc.

In a big bowl, mix the cooked potatoes, carrot, eggs, celery and green onion. Add the dressing to the potato mixture and toss lightly so as not to crush the potatoes or eggs. If the mixture is too dry, add some additional mayo and pickle juice. Check the salt level as it is dependent on your choice of mayonnaise and pickle juice, for how much additional salt may be needed.

Makes lots.

Potato Latkes with Peas, Yogurt and Pea Shoots
This gluten-free dish is best made with a floury potato such as Russet Burbank. Adapted from Taste Australia.

500 g potatoes, peeled
⅔ c fresh peas or frozen, defrosted
⅔ c feta, crumbled
3 green shallots, trimmed, thinly sliced
50 g (½ c) gluten-free cornstarch
3 t ground coriander
½ T turmeric
½ T baking powder
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 T extra virgin olive oil
cherry tomatoes, fresh pea shoots and yogurt for garnish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, coriander, turmeric and baking powder. Reserve. Use a mandolin to grate the potatoes into long strips (or coarsely grate the potatoes with a box grater). Place the potatoes in a bowl and add the peas, feta and shallots. Season. Make a well in the centre of the cornstarch mixture and add the egg and the potato mixture. Stir well to combine.

Heat 3 teaspoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add four ¼-cupfuls of the potato mixture to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining 3 teaspoons of oil and the potato mixture.

Divide the potato fritters among serving plates. Top with the pea pesto, roasted tomatoes and yogurt. Serve with the pea shoots.

Makes four latkes.

Pea Pesto
Pea pesto is also delicious on a crostini with chopped fresh tomato and a drizzle of good olive oil.

1 c peas fresh or frozen
¼ c pepitas
1 clove garlic, chopped
⅓ c fresh cilantro leaves
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T hot water

Process the peas, pepitas and garlic in a small food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the cilantro and process until combined. Add the oil, lemon juice and hot water and process until a coarse paste forms. Season. Cover and set aside for approximately 1 hour to develop the flavours.

Warm Fingerling Salad with Goat Cheese, Fresh Thyme and Lemon
A foil packet on the grill is an easy way to make roast potatoes all summer long. The goal is a crisp surface with tender insides.

8-10 fingerlings (or any new potato) halved
2 T fresh thyme, chopped (or to taste)
zest of ½ a small lemon
juice of ½ a small lemon
½ sm tub chèvre, about ⅓ c
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
olive oil

Scrub potatoes lightly under running water, cut in half and lay out on a large piece of foil. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of butter. Throw in a good 3-4 thyme sprigs. Season. Fold the foil over, adding another piece if necessary to get good coverage and to fully seal. Place on a hot grill for about 30 minutes. Check the potatoes by squeezing, if they’re still hard let them cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Move to the back of the grill when done to keep warm.

While the potatoes are cooking, put the goat cheese in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk together until it’s thick and smooth.

To serve, undo the foil and place the hot potatoes in the bowl. Toss to coat. Check seasoning, add more thyme, lemon or oil if desired.

Serves 6-8.

Potato Waffles with Smoked Salmon
This is an amazing brunch dish. If you don’t have a waffle maker, you could make small pancakes instead. Adapted from Donna Hay.


1½ c flour, sifted
¼ c cornstarch
1 t baking powder
1 t sea salt
1½ c buttermilk
¼ c canola oil
2 eggs, separated
350 g floury potatoes, peeled and grated
¼ c tarragon leaves


6-8 slices smoked salmon
1 sm red onion, thinly sliced
¼ c caper berries
2 c watercress sprigs
finely grated fresh horseradish, to serve


½ c buttermilk
¼ c crème fraîche
sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper

To make the waffles, place the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, oil and egg yolks, whisk until smooth and set aside.

Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Add the egg whites to the flour mixture and gently fold to combine. When you are ready to make the waffles fold in the grated potato and tarragon.
Preheat a lightly-greased waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cook ¾ cup of the waffle batter for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 4 waffles (or pancakes). While the waffles are cooking, make the dressing. Place the buttermilk, crème fraîche, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine.

Divide the waffles on 4 plates and top with the salmon, onion, caper berries, watercress and horseradish. Drizzle with the dressing to serve.
Serves 4.

Fresh Sablefish Niçoise
“This is a take on traditional French Niçoise salad, with green or yellow beans, tomatoes, boiled egg and fresh oregano. Make the salad component ahead of time so you can concentrate on cooking the fish to perfection, because it is the star.” –Rod Butters, The Okanagan Table.

2 new potatoes
¾ c green and/or yellow beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
¾ c cherry tomatoes, halved
1 hard-boiled egg, thinly sliced
3 green onions, chopped
3 anchovies, finely chopped
2 T balsamic vinegar
3 T extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped oregano
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 (5oz) skinless sablefish fillets
1 T unsalted butter

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside. When cool slice thinly.

Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil, add the beans and blanch for 30-45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain.

Combine the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, egg and green onions in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the anchovies, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the parsley and oregano. Whisk until emulsified. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Pat-dry the sablefish with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Put the fish in the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add butter, spoon the melted butter over the fish and cook for another 2 minutes, until a nice crust has formed. Flip the fish over and cook for another 3 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. (Do not overcook.)

To Serve: Transfer the salad to 2 plates, top with sablefish and spoon any pan drippings over the fish. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Roast Potatoes and Chanterelles
Serve with grilled steak and just-picked tomatoes.

6-10 red new potatoes, quartered
2 c chanterelles (or cremini mushrooms, trimmed)*
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c fresh parsley leaves, packed
2 t cream (if desired for extra richness)
squeeze of lemon juice, or splash (approx. 1-2 T) of sherry vinegar
2 caper berries (optional)

Preheat oven to 450ºF, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season. Roast until mushrooms are browned and potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes, tossing once and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the cream if using and toss with parsley, vinegar and capers.

Serves 4-6.

* Mo-Na Mushrooms, at the City Market on 104 Street, often has fresh chanterelles. Or, buy a packet of dried chanterelles at the Italian Centre South Side.

Mary Bailey, the editor of The Tomato, comes from a proud Manitoba potato-growing family.