Caesar Potato Salad

July 20, 2017

This past week, after a sweaty walk with the Mozz-man, I came inside, poured a large glass of iced tea and flopped in front of the television for half an hour. It’s something I don’t allow myself to do very often; loafing in the afternoon is something my mother frowned heavily upon, and it’s stuck with me. This is too bad, since afternoon loafing feels pretty damn good sometimes.

I was flicking through channels and paused on the Food Network long enough to hear Ree Drummond (aka: the Pioneer Woman) say, “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but potluck food is my absolute favorite.”

Immediately, I thought: That woman is nuts.

Never, in a million years, would I say that I enjoy potluck food, let alone choose it above all other cuisines. To me, potluck food means casseroles containing cream of mushroom soup and Jell-o salads. It means sweaty deviled eggs and Spam dip. It means mayonnaise and Cool Whip. No thanks.

I was repaid for this snobbery a few days later, when my husband announced that we’d been invited to…you guessed it…a potluck. Even worse? It was an outdoor potluck, which means potluck food and dive-bombing insects. I wasn’t thrilled about this but it also wasn’t something I could gracefully get out of, so I decided to grit my teeth and make the best of it. Hey, at least there’d be beer there!

It was one of those potluck parties where you’re assigned what to bring, so I learned I’d be making potato salad and guacamole. Guacamole was no problem (well, except for the ridiculous price tag on avocados right now). I love guacamole so much that I’ll never be priced out of making it, and I can make it in my sleep, but I was less thrilled about the potato salad part of the equation. I feel a little guilty saying this but in all honesty? I don’t really even like it. Is that un-American? I think it is. Potato salad also is a pain the ass to make, and you’re always faced with the mayonnaise vs olive oil dilemma, and there’s this pressure to make something a little more interesting than standard, run-of-the-mill picnic fare. For something as “simple” as potato salad, that’s a lot of complications.

One thing was certain: bringing Mama’s infamous Orange Potato Salad was out of the question, because I didn’t know the guests very well and didn’t think they’d necessarily be receptive to that little monstrosity.

What to do?

Most people do prefer potato salad with mayonnaise, and unless I’m attending a potluck outside in the heat of the day, I usually feel duty-bound to go that route. As luck would have it, the festivities were in the evening, so I felt fairly safe there. I did decide to change it up a little and go with a sort of Caesar salad-Potato salad hybrid. I figured that it might be just familiar enough that people would eat it, and just different enough that they might come back for seconds.

For the dressing, I combined a traditional olive oil/lemon/caper/Parmesan dressing with a little mayonnaise/cracked pepper/parsley. Potato salad mashup, if you will. I was pleased with the result; it wasn’t as heavy as traditional versions, and had an extra little punch of flavor and salt from the Parmesan and garlic. And *ahem* it wasn’t orange.

This is probably not a potato salad for traditionalists and it’s probably not for kids, but most of the adults at the party scarfed it down, happily.

You know what made me really happy? I walked into the party–the party where I hardly knew a soul–and there were dogs there! Lots of them! Happy, sweet, tail-wagging, drooly, non-judgemental dogs. Nothing pleases me more than a chance to grab a plate of food, a cold beverage, and hang out with dogs for a couple of hours. Which I did.

Who says I’m no good at parties?


Caesar Potato Salad

serves 6-8

2 pounds small new potatoes, halved

8 ounces haricot verts, ends trimmed and halved

4 stalks chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped scallion or shallot

1/3 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons capers, drained



1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2-3 teaspoons anchovy paste

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, grated

zest of 1 lemon

1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise, depending on your preference

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*a little milk or buttermilk to thin things out, if the dressing seems thick


Garnish (optional):

Parmesan cheese

Chopped hard-cooked egg


Place the potatoes in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes. Add the green beans and cook another 2-3 minutes or until potatoes are tender enough to piece with a fork and beans are crisp-tender. Drain.

Combine potatoes and green beans with celery, scallion, capers and parsley.

For dressing: Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, anchovy paste, salt, garlic and lemon zest together. Whisk in mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Test for consistency and if it seems overly thick, thin it with a little milk or buttermilk.

Toss dressing with potatoes. Taste again and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, with optional garnishes.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie July 20, 2017 at 7:14 am

Dogs always make a party more fun!! Love this version of potato salad. I am not a fan of most potatoes overall and loathe potluck food right along with you. Work potluck lunch days made my stomach turn over. Cheeseburger soup? Weight watchers fruit fluff? Gah!


Papa Guy July 20, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Mustard PS is the absolute best kind of PS. What makes is special is all the love that is put into it…
Although I would most definatly try yours, I will always go back to Mother’s, My Wife’s, and myself’s way of putin one together.


Arnebya July 21, 2017 at 8:20 am

I detest potluck food unless it’s with family. You don’t know shit about your coworkers until it’s potluck time (if I participate, I’m only eating what I brought. I work with you, stupid; I know you don’t wash your hands after you use the bathroom. I can only imagine what you’re like in a kitchen).


Dana Talusani July 24, 2017 at 8:39 am


Your comment made me laugh–probably because there’s such sad truth to it! I remember as a kid only picking out the dishes my mother made and eating those, because all other things were highly suspect.


ayala July 22, 2017 at 3:47 am

A party with dogs :) can’t be bad…your salad looks delicious. Enjoy your weekend.


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