Here in the Midwest we are getting brief glimpses of warm weather. Even though days in the 80’s may be sandwiched between rain and cold, we all know that soon those single days will chain together into whole weeks. Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer season will be here in a week.
When I was growing up, Memorial Day was spent outside with my dad. He was off work and eschewed golfing on a holiday, so I had lots of home time with him. The day revolved around my dad listening to the Indy 500 on the radio (it took the better part of a day back then) while he puttered around the yard. Dinner would come from the grill and usually it was chicken. My dad was a newest gadget kind of guy and our grill had an electric rotisserie and a metal door with a tempered glass window that allowed you to watch the food cook to golden perfection.
I inherited his grilling gene. Mama D’s family grills…a lot. We actually grill year round. We like to do entire meals on the grill; meat, potatoes, veggies, even fruit for dessert. But summer isn’t made of grilled food alone. Cold sides make grilled food taste better. Something about the contrasting temperatures and palate cleansing properties just work. Whatever, this isn’t about grilling it’s about the sides and it’s not about potato salad. It’s about “Not Potato Salad.”
Cauliflower does its very best potato imitation in this dish. Surprisingly, cauliflower has many of the same properties as potatoes without all of the starch. It’s white and when cut in small florets and steamed until tender it has a texture similar to potatoes. I discovered this dish in my “low carb” days and it has remained an often requested side at family barbecues. You can make virtually any style of potato salad into “not potato salad.”
Today I’m sharing a more or less traditional version that In my new en”light”enment I have trimmed down in fat. Even though the salad is vegetable to begin with, I add lots of veggies chosen for their crunch. Naturally, cauliflower is the main ingredient. Once it is cut into small but uniform florets it needs to be cooked. I usually steam it, and I like using the microwave and this steamer that I got at a Tupperware party sometime in the 90’s. It does a great job and brightens the kitchen at the same time.I like the cauliflower soft but not mushy. I want the pieces to hold up in the dressing so, 7 – 9 minutes in my microwave does it.
I like hard-boiled eggs in my potato salad and that’s what I want in the Not-Version. Onions are an absolute necessity. Scallions, red, or sweet are all good and I choose based on the herbs I will use But I’ve also been known to use whatever I have on hand. This time I invited scallions to the party. Most potato salads include celery. Many of you know how I feel about celery…it’s not going to happen. I’ve found another vegetable that packs as much crunch without the strings; jicama. I added some red bell pepper to give things a pop of color and flavor. For this go-round I used lemon zest and fresh dill. The dressing must be creamy and there has to be some mayonnaise. I opted for the light version. This one has added benefits of Omega-3 and plant sterols for heart health. Non-fat Greek yogurt filled in for sour cream and fat-free half & half thinned things down a little bit. Fresh herbs, a touch of lemon juice, white balsamic, and prepared mustard rounded out the flavors. A few drops of agave nectar give a very subtle sweetness that brings everything together.As with most of my recipes, this is just a guideline. Everything is open for discussion and my feelings will not be hurt if you go your own way on this. The only thing I insist on is that you chill the salad before serving. It gives the flavors a chance to meld, plus cold and crunchy just tastes better.
As we sail into summer, take time to revel in the sunshine and warmer weather. We have earned it and this season is a fleeting one. Make the most of it. Fill it with family, great food, good friends, and more than a little love. Mama D