This past week, we've been subjected to the sort of brief but intense heat wave that saps every ounce of a reasonable person's physical, mental, and emotional energy, leaving one - by which I mean me - a limp, cranky rag doll who can only cower in the AC and wait for it to be over.
Needless to say, this state of affairs can put a serious damper on kitchen activity, but the unfortunate fact is that people persist in getting hungry despite the uncivilized temperatures. At times like these, I take a leaf from my mother's book, which held that the wisest course is to get up very early, "before it gets too hot," and whip up a ginormous vat of some cold collation that could be kept in the refrigerator and eaten later. This was usually some variety of "salad" (tuna, pasta, or potato), to be eked out at dinnertime by a big bowl of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and possibly something cooked on the grill; these dishes also made regular appearances at picnics, cook-outs, etc.
So yesterday morning I decided to have a go at approximating that old-school potato salad, and I herewith present the results. It's not fancy or innovative, and it certainly has no pretensions to be one of those upscale reimaginings of old-fashioned dishes that pop up in blogs and food magazines this time of year. This is just a super-simple, utilitarian, family-friendly workhorse of a summer staple. Make a big batch in the morning, and when late afternoon rolls around, voila: you have the perfect accompaniment for veggie burgers and/or dogs and some fresh, crispy greens.
Old School Potato Salad
~ 6-8 large potatoes (I used Yukon Golds), cut into approximately 2" cubes
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 small bell pepper, diced (any color will do, but red is pretty)
~ 3/4 cup Vegenaise (more or less)
~ 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
~ 1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, dill, dried parsley
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1/4 cup fresh, finely chopped parsley
~ Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook the potatoes until done but not falling apart (test them with a fork after about 10 minutes).
~ Optional, if you don't like raw onion (or it doesn't like you): place the chopped onion in a small dish with a few tablespoons of water and microwave for 2 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
~ Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking; set aside.
~ In a large bowl, combine the Vegenaise, mustard, Worcester sauce, and dried spices, and mix thoroughly.
~ Stir in the drained potatoes, onion, celery, bell paper, and fresh parsley, and mix until everything is coated with the dressing. Taste for seasoning, then cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving cold.