Growing up, there were a few things I could always count on come summer: Fresh-picked blueberries from our yard, hamburgers grilled on the Weber, BLTs with juicy tomatoes and my dad’s potato salad.
I’m not sure how he came up with this recipe. I think he probably adapted it from a cookbook and kept adding odds and ends until it suited his tastes. (His tastes being anything peppery and well spiced.) He was happy to give me the rough recipe – he doesn’t have it written down anywhere – when I called him up and asked for it a few weeks ago.
The key to my his potato salad, he has always told me, is a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix. The mix is mostly salt and sugar, but he swears by it. Potatoes are nothing without salt, and the sugar balances out the seasoned rice vinegar he uses.
I was shocked when he told me he uses a 1:1 ratio of potatoes to eggs for his salad. Using this many eggs allows him to use less mayo. But it seemed excessive, so I revised the eggs down a little. The other secrets to his famous potato salad? Vlasic Zesty dill pickles (whole if you can find them), with all the peppercorns from the bottom of the jar; big black olives; sweet onions and lots of fresh-cracked pepper.
The result of this mess of ingredients is a well balanced, creamy, zingy salad. For me, it’s the taste of summer, and it’s delicious.
A quintessential summer cookout food, this dish is best alongside a burger or a hot dog. Have it with a cold beer or a Chipotle Bloody Mary.
Dad’s Potato Salad
- 3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 eggs
- 1 jar Vlasic Zesty dill pickles
- 1 can black olives, sliced into rings
- 1 ½ cups sweet onion, diced
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- Dash Lawry’s seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
- Paprika for garnish
- Scrub potatoes and place in large pot. Fill three-quarters of the way with lukewarm water, add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool just long enough to be able to handle. Peel skins off potatoes while still warm. They should come off easily. Cut potatoes into large bite-sized chunks and set aside.
- Meanwhile, fill medium saucepan pan two-thirds of the way with water and bring to a boil over medium-high. Carefully lower eggs into pan. Cook 10 minutes over a gentle boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water for eggs. After cooking, immediately submerge eggs into ice water and let sit at least 2 minutes. Peel and dice eggs.
- Using a mesh strainer and a bowl, drain pickles and all the good stuff at the bottom of the jar. Separate peppercorns, pimientos and other seasonings from pickles and set aside. Dice 1 cup pickles (roughly 2 whole pickles), returning remaining pickles and juice to the jar, if wanted.
- In large bowl, toss potatoes, eggs, pickles, olives and onion.
- In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well combined. Add mayonnaise mixture to potato mixture, adding more mayo, vinegar, salt or pepper to taste. Garnish with paprika.