Cool Potato Salad

Tenkei first introduced me to this festive cold potato salad not long after I met him. He told me his mum often made it for summer parties. I imagine it was one of those post-war creations made on a budget? All you needed were potatoes plus whatever was at hand to mix through it. Sardines, gherkins, hard-boiled eggs, and green peas would be a traditional combination and decorated similarly. It was not unlike the Polish potato salad my dad used to make but without all the festive pizzaz!
This cool-looking potato salad uses fresh diced veggies with old fashioned gherkins, and some roasted garlic and black olives to give it a slightly different twist. Spanish Aioli  came to mind when I added the olive oil, mayonnaise and garlic. In that case, it might be even better with some Spanish smoked paprika! Next time.

Serves 4- 6


1.5 kg (3 pounds) potatoes
3 medium carrots
2 sticks celery
½ English cucumber, divided
6-8 gherkins, divided
1 red bell pepper, divided
1 medium red onion, divided
100 g black olives, divided
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Green salad leaves for garnish


  • Peel the potatoes and carrots. Cut into medium-sized pieces.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, drop in the potatoes and carrots, return to the boil and simmer for about 18 minutes, or until the potatoes lose their sharp edges and are tender when pricked through with a knife.
  • When they are ready, reserve a cup of water from the potatoes, then drain. Leave the potatoes and carrots to cool.

  • First, reserve a part of the vegetables for the garnish, minus the celery. Then cut the remainder.
  • Small-dice the celery stalks.
  • Small-dice the cucumber and gherkins.
  • De-seed and small-dice the red pepper.
  • Peel and mince the red onion.
  • Roughly chop the black olives.
  • Mix all together.

  • To make the garnish thinly slice the reserved cucumber, peppers, gherkins, and red onion, and cut the olives into halves lengthwise. Set aside.

  • Heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan on medium flame. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Put the potatoes and carrots into a large pot. Add the garlic, olive oil, mayonnaise, and mustard and start to mash them together. Pour in a little of the reserved potato water to help the process, but be careful not to add too much or add more mayonnaise or olive oil if you prefer. Keep mashing until it is smooth but still firm enough to stand alone.
  • Stir in the mixed vegetables.

  • Take a serving platter and heap the potatoes in the middle then shape into a smooth round or oval mound.
  • Decorate the potatoes with the garnish. To help the garnish stick to the surface, smear a thin layer of mayonnaise over the mound.
  • Place the green salad around the edge of the decorated mound along with any leftover garnish.
  • Serve with extra mayonnaise to appease any mayo lovers!

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