We had traditional Swabian potato salad (Schwäbischer kartoffelsalat), a salad which has yellow potatoes and a very simple oil and vinegar dressing, a few times while in Stuttgart. It is often used as a base for salad greens such as arugula or lettuces, and in fact it was served beneath the green salad at every restaurant we visited, a warm golden surprise waiting at the bottom of the plate.
It didn’t taste anything like the German potato salads we’ve had in the U.S. and we initially thought the difference was in the type of vinegar used, and it turns out we were right. As I researched I found the German recipes specified white wine vinegar, not plain white or apple cider vinegar which is often used in the U.S. I also learned that traditional German recipes call for some kind of broth to be mixed in at the end, either chicken or vegetable, as well as a little sunflower oil, a neutral flavored oil that doesn’t overpower the other flavors in the salad.
Steaming the potatoes rather than boiling keeps them from getting waterlogged and also helps retain their nutrients rather than tossing them out with the water. Make sure all the potatoes are approximately the same size for even cooking, and allow the the steamed potatoes to cool a bit before peeling so your fingers don’t get burned. The potatoes should be very tender when cooked.
This potato salad is great for summer cookouts because there is no dairy in the dressing and because it makes a great palette for green salads, adapting well to a variety of additions, including chives, asparagus, chopped egg, bacon, or ham.
Swabian Potato Salad (Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat)
- 6 quart pot with lid
- steamer basket
- large mixing bowl
- 2.2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes (all about the same size)
- 1 small Vidalia onion (finely chopped)
- 1 cup light vegetable broth (or chicken broth, hot)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
- 1 pinch white pepper
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil (or canola oil)
- Place the steamer basket in the bottom of the pot and add water until it touches the steamer. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, arranging them evenly on the steamer surface. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Allow to cool until you can hold the warm potatoes without getting burned. Peel and slice the warm potatoes.
- While the potatoes cook, stir together the onions and the hot broth and set aside. When finished slicing the steamed potatoes, warm the broth mixture until hot.
- Put the sliced potatoes in the large bowl. Pour on the broth mixture and sprinkle on the sea salt and pepper, then add the vinegar and oil. Carefully turn the potatoes to distribute the seasonings, but try to avoid breaking the slices. Typically served warm, but you can also serve chilled.