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The Food Guy: For cookouts, try thinking outside the potato patch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Last week I shared some interesting ways to sauce up your summer burgers with out-of-the-box condiments. Now, how about a few offbeat sides to go with them?

You can't have a summer cookout without potato salad - so says me - but you don't always have to go the traditional route. I was recently surfing for recipes when I discovered that www.idaho offers more than 80 different potato salad combinations, some of them quite unique.

Like potato and pesto chicken salad (potatoes tossed with crunchy green beans, cubed chicken and pesto) and Greek potato salad (featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and fresh dill). Then there's chopped potato breakfast salad, potato and smoked salmon salad, potato nicoise salad and dozens more.

But my favorite is a stunning grilled potato salad with warm goat cheese and yellow tomato vinaigrette. Just take a look at the gorgeous photo accompanying this week's recipe.

Mercy! It's art on a plate.

* * *

Know what would also be awesome drizzled over grilled or cooked potatoes?

Balsamic Shallot Sauce.

Made from cooked grapes, balsamic vinegar adds such a richness, depth and undeniable tang to a variety of dishes. And let's face it - bland potatoes need to be paired with big flavors.

Roland Foods makes a good balsamic vinegar derived from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes, which they suggest using in a variety of ways:

  • Splash a little balsamic into olive oil and add a bit of fresh rosemary and sea salt for a nice dipping sauce for bread.
  • Reduce balsamic vinegar by cooking it to make a great glaze you can use to finish grilled meat dishes, or simply drizzle onto the side of a plate for a bit of visual flair.
  • Macerate strawberries with fresh lemon juice and sugar, then toss with a bit of balsamic for a sweet-tart dessert.
  • Drizzle balsamic over fresh vegetables or salad for a healthy dressing.
  • Contact writer Steven Keith at or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at

    Grilled potato salad with warm goat cheese and yellow tomato vinaigrette

    • Grilled Potatoes:
    • 2 potatoes (peeled, sliced into 12 half-inch-thick pieces and cut with round cookie cutter)
    • 3 small purple potatoes (peeled, sliced into 12 quarter-inch-thick pieces and cut with oval cutter)
    • 8 small red potatoes (whole)
    • Dressing for Potatoes:
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp. capers
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (leaves picked from stems)
    • 4 cloves crushed garlic
    • salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
    • Yellow Tomato Vinaigrette:
    • 2 vine ripe yellow tomatoes
    • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1 clove fresh garlic
    • Salt, to taste
    • 8 miniature red pear tomatoes (cut in half)
    • 8 miniature yellow grape tomatoes (cut in half)
    • 1/4 pint mixed red and yellow currant tomatoes
    • 4 Tbsp. basil chiffonade (roll leaves together and thinly slice)
    1. For potatoes, cook each kind separately in salted water until tender, yet not falling apart. Drain and cool on parchment paper. Toss in olive oil and grill until warmed throughout.
    2. For dressing, mix all ingredients together and allow steeping for about 15 minutes, then add to the grilled potatoes. Arrange grilled dressed potatoes in the center of your plate and surround with the yellow tomato vinaigrette.
    3. For the vinaigrette, place yellow tomatoes in blender with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt. Blend until smooth and strain through a fine sieve. Place all miniature tomatoes in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and basil, cover with yellow tomato vinaigrette and gently mix, adjusting seasoning with more vinegar, salt and oil if needed. Spoon vinaigrette around the warmed grilled potatoes.
    4. Top each salad with 2 ounces of warmed goat cheese. Drizzle with olive or basil oil and top with a basil sprig.

    Recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

    Potato and pesto chicken salad

    • 2 lbs. potatoes, well scrubbed (peeled, if desired)
    • 1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
    • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 11/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 3/4 cup prepared pesto sauce
    • 3-6 cups mixed salad greens such as Boston, bibb or mesclun mix (optional)
    1. Over high heat in a large, heavy pot with tight-fitting cover, bring half a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise in half-inch slices. Add potatoes to boiling water, cover and return to boiling; cook 3 minutes.
    2. Add green beans to pot with potatoes and cook another 4 minutes; drain potatoes and beans and set aside. (Vegetables should be firm.)
    3. In the same pot, heat olive oil over high heat and cook chicken, stirring for 6-8 minutes or until meat is completely cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in pesto sauce, then gently stir in potatoes and green beans, taking care not to break up the vegetables. Serve salad warm or at room temperature on a bed of salad greens, if desired.

    Recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

    Greek potato salad

    • 4 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    • 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
    • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
    1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes about 12 minutes, until crisp-tender. Add green beans and cook 2 minutes longer. Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Add potatoes and green beans and toss gently to coat.
    3. Add cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and dill; tossing gently. Cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until serving time. At serving time, spoon onto 4 serving plates and sprinkle the feta over.

    Recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

    Balsamic shallot sauce

    • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup white cooking wine
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 6 black peppercorns, crushed
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
    1. Add butter, rosemary and onion to a large pan. Saute over moderate heat, stirring as needed until the onion is softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add half of the white cooking wine and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf and peppercorns and simmer about 30 minutes, reducing the liquid to 1 1/2 cups.
    3. In a separate saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, shallots and remaining white cooking wine. Boil gently until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Add the reduced chicken broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan for immediate use or into a bowl for refrigeration.

    Recipe courtesy Roland Foods.

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