With warmer, sunny days and the 4th of July just around the corner, our cooking and eating changes into full summer mode: potluck suppers with visiting friends, cocktails on the deck, family barbeques, lobster bakes and picnics. We’re enjoying fresh salad greens tossed with baby carrots and radishes, sugar snap peas swimming in mint butter, and lots of potato salads.
The potato salad is believed to have originated in Germany, spreading largely throughout Europe, the United States, and later Asia. The recipes we relish most likely migrated here by the way of German and European immigrants during the nineteenth century.
Early renditions of spud salads were made by boiling potatoes in wine or a mixture of vinegar and spices. The New England version of potato salad is often mayonnaise drenched, while the classic French version is olive oil and vinegar based. Chopped onions, scallions, carrots, celery, egg, and even bacon all are ingredients often found in a favorite family potato salad.
The recipe for Potato and Toasted Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing is adapted from a 1996 Gourmet magazine and was featured as part of menu for a poolside lobster buffet. For us vintage foodies, the now defunct Gourmet magazine was the food network of the print world: beautiful, glossy photographs, dreamy table settings, and incredible menus with detailed recipes.
This potato salad preparation is simple and straightforward; the flavor components are in the dressing. Buttermilk, the tangy tasting liquid spun off from the churning of butter, is the key ingredient. Most buttermilk sold in the markets today is a commercially prepared product made from milk that has been inoculated with bacteria. For the best flavor, seek out true buttermilk, like Kate’s. The flavor makes all the difference.
In this salad recipe, the taste of new potatoes and fresh chives, scallions or even garlic scapes will shine. The corn kernels, which can be either fresh or frozen, are toasted until nicely browned in olive oil. They add a nice nutty flavor and summery yellow color. Cooking the corn in bacon fat and adding chopped bacon to the salad would be a delicious variation.
The flavors of Potato & Toasted Corn Salad with buttermilk dressing get better with age, and the salad stores well in the refrigerator. Pack it up in a cooler and enjoy this tasty treat at your next summer picnic.
Potato & Toasted Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
- 3 pounds red potatoes new potatoes are best
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-½ cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives or fresh green onions
- Maine sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Lettuce to line platter & fresh flowers to garnish optional
- Assemble ingredients and tools.
- Chop the chives or green onions and set aside.
- Scrub the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until they are just fork tender. Drain well and set aside.
- To toast the corn, heat the oil in a large, cast iron skillet until hot but not smoking. Cook the corn, covered, over moderately high heat, shaking the skillet, until it is nicely browned, about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise and vinegar. Stir in the potatoes, toasted corn and chopped chives. Toss well to coat and season with Maine sea salt and fresh pepper.
- To serve: Line a bowl or platter with lettuce leaves. Spoon the salad on top. Garnish with edible flowers like nasturtiums, pansies, or chive blossoms.