Baked Potato Salad

I took a wild guess that I’ve been making this Baked Potato Salad for myself for dinner for 20 years, and then I got out the cookbook in which the original recipe is, and it is exactly 20 years old. 1997, wow. I would feel old if I thought about that too long, so let’s move on. I found this Baked Potato Salad in Todd English’s cookbook, The Olives Table , which I fell in love with because the recipes are just the right balance of simple and unique. Putting a salad on a baked potato isn’t exactly an idea to light your world on fire. Or is it? It seemed pretty novel 20 years ago, but today in the veggie-loving world it just seems like the right thing to do on #meatlessmonday. 

Here are the ingredients that I used for my Baked Potato Salad today, but this is one of those recipes (again) in which the rules are few and the options endless. My salad varies from the original in the choice of greens, I used arugula and radicchio instead of Chef English’s watercress and endive. You could use any green that you like and I usually use whatever I have on hand when the mood strikes to make this for lunch or dinner, when I am dining alone in the fall or winter and don’t want to “cook” but want something healthy, filling and yummy. Chef English says that this is his favorite thing to assemble for himself after a long week of cooking, so I thought “Well, that sounds good enough for me!” (The only chef I knew personally said he liked to eat a box of twinkies with a gallon of milk after a weekend in the kitchen.)

I believe that this recipe is the one in which I learned the super simple tip for making baked potatoes NEXT LEVEL DELICIOUS. Rub the skin of the baked potato with olive oil and salt before baking in the oven and you will not believe the amount of flavor that this incredibly small step adds. You’ll know even before you take them out of the oven because the aroma is intoxicating. In fact, warn your family that you are not baking them a cake for dinner or they may be briefly disappointed when you pull potatoes out of the oven instead of cake.

Today I made two baked potato salads, but you can halve the recipe for one or multiply it for company. I left one for my hubs when I went out to a meeting and when I came home, I see he put in the fridge so now I get to have it for lunch tomorrow too. I bet if I had left a steak along side of it, it would have been gone. (Maybe he thought I made cake.) This is why I usually make it for myself, because I am satisfied eating a meatless dinner salad. These would make a wonderful side-dish for a grilled steak or any roasted meat. They would also be delicious with bacon or proscuitto added. 

While the potatoes bake in the oven, I prep the salad and make the dressing. (With plenty of time to spare) The dressing on this salad is so delicious, I highly recommend that you take the 2 minutes to make it. If you don’t feel that you have 2 minutes to spare, you could use your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, and I’m sure I’ve done it in a pinch. But, just try the damn dressing once, ok? It makes the salad. The toasted walnuts, with the warmed balsamic, lemon and oil and blue cheese thrown in at the end makes a perfect warm and savory coating for the vegetables. 

This salad would also be delicious on a sweet potato, and I will be having a few of these in different forms this winter now that it’s back on my radar (and hunting season is here). If you don’t like blue cheese, goat cheese or shaved parmesan would be good substitutes. Some extra olive oil drizzled on top is also a good idea. If you prefer a creamy dressing, this blue cheese dressing recipe is my favorite. This recipe is just a guideline, so make it your own!

Let’s get cozy and bake up a salad. 

Baked Potato Salad
A delicious vegetarian entree or side dish.
  1. 2 Idaho potatoes, pricked several times with the tines of a fork
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  5. 1 small bunch of arugula (2-3 cups)
  6. 1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  7. 1 cup green beans, blanched in boiling salt water for 2 minutes and halved lengthwise
  8. 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  9. 1 cup thinly sliced raddichio
  1. 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  2. 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  3. 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  4. 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  5. 1/3 cup crumbled Roquefort, or other good quality blue cheese
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  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rub the potatoes with the olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place them directly on the rack in the oven and cook until tender, 40 min to an hour, depending on size of potato.
  3. Meanwhile, combine arugula, cucumber, green beans, red onion, radicchio and remaining salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  4. To make the dressing: Place a small skillet over high heat and add the oil when it is hot. Add the walnuts and toast for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and vinegar and cook until heated through, 30 seconds. Take the pan off the heat and add the cheese. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to combine.
  5. Open the potatoes by slicing an "X" in the top of each one and squeezing the sides with your hands. Mound half of the salad on each hot potato. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Todd English- The Olives Table
Adapted from Todd English- The Olives Table
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