Alabama reader Cynthia Lee Manasco Ratliff, formerly of Charleston, asked about a recipe for a potato salad that includes ranch dressing, Dijon mustard, green onions, parsley and dill weed. She also is interested in other "different" recipes for potato salad.
But first, what are the best spuds for potato salad? If you missed it, Nathalie Dupree's column in Wednesday's Food section talked about which potatoes were ideal for making this or that. For salads, it is the "waxier" potatoes that don't fall apart when boiled, such as round reds and round whites.
And what is ranch dressing anyway? For one, it is the most popular dressing in the country. The key component is typically buttermilk (or should be) along with a mix of herbs and spices that varies according to the maker.
A range of appealing recipes was offered in response to Cynthia's request, but none specifically called for ranch dressing. However, it would be pretty easy to make a substitution, or partial substitution, for the usual mayonnaise or sour cream. Potato salad is a very flexible dish.
I did find a recipe with ranch dressing and made some other changes to accommodate Cynthia's wishes. I like having the peas in the mix. You also could add cooked crumbled bacon for a little something extra.
6 medium red potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup prepared ranch salad dressing
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, celery, scallions, parsley, dill, peas, salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine mustard and salad dressing.
Pour dressing mixture over potato mixture and toss lightly.
Sprinkle with eggs and cover. Refrigerate for several hours.
A number of readers shared their potato salad recipes, too, such as Ron Pollitt of Kiawah Island. This is his favorite, and he says it goes well with almost anything.
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 spring onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons drained capers, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 pound small red potatoes
Whisk first seven ingredients in large bowl to blend and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook potatoes in salted water at low boil for 10 minutes (longer for softer salad). Drain, return potatoes to pot, and place pot on low heat until all liquid evaporates. Cut warm potatoes into thick slices (to taste) and add to bowl with dressing. Toss gently to coat. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature and toss once again before serving. Keeps well in refrigerator, but must be returned to room temperature and tossed before serving.
Anne Fox of Mount Pleasant has used this recipe often and says it's been a big hit. She advises making the salad ahead because it's better the next day after the flavors have developed.
2 1/2 pounds raw potatoes cut in cubes
1 bunch spring onions, chopped fine, including green tops
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 cups sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until tender, but do not overcook. Drain and cool.
In a bowl, add all other ingredients to the potatoes and mix gently. Chill before serving.
Carol Dotterer of Charleston shares a recipe she once clipped from this column.
9 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickles, divided use
1/2 cup mustard, divided use
1 cup mayonnaise, divided use
Dash of salt
6 cups cubed boiled potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped pimiento
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
Cut 6 of the boiled eggs in half; remove yolk. Place yolks in bowl and mix with 1 teaspoon pickles, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and dash of salt. Stuff eggs with the yolk mixture. Set eggs aside.
Mix potatoes with the remaining pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, onion, pimiento, green pepper, celery and the tablespoon of salt.
Chop remaining 3 eggs and add in last. Sprinkle with the paprika and arrange deviled eggs around the top of the salad for a decorative look.
A Summerville reader who's on an applesauce kick asked for a recipe using Granny Smith apples and not a lot of sugar.
Suzy Nelson of Yonge's Island writes, "I make the following applesauce, which is almost sugar free and is good with ham, turkey, etc., or just by itself. It's not made with Granny Smith but is quite good -- a longtime favorite."
5 pounds apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/3 cup cinnamon red hots candy or more to taste
Cover apples with water in a pot. Add cinnamon red hots. Cook over medium heat until apples are completely tender. Put through a ricer. Chill and enjoy.
A caller from West Ashley wants to make some sort of pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving but not a traditional pie, and asked for recipes.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Food Editor Teresa Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org, 937-4886 or 134 Columbus St., Charleston, SC 29403-4800.