Patates Salatası – “Not-your-mother’s-potato-salad”

When we were in Turkey in the middle of August, the entire family gathered in the rural village for a reunion. This tiny enclave nestled in the mountains offers the only solace from the extreme humidity that we were used to in Southern Turkey during this time of year. Even in the somewhat cool temperatures, everyone was just laying around lazily with no intention of hiding out in the closed off kitchen to prepare anything that required an oven.

This is when my sister-in-law, Fatma, decided to make potato salad. I, being the skeptic, thought that,  a) we barely had any food left and wondered what she could possibly find to make this salad and, b) was not in the mood for what I thought was your typical picnic fare with mayonnaise. Nevertheless, in less than 20 minutes, she emerged from the kitchen with this huge bowl that smelled amazing and tasted even better. Typically, it should be chilled, which was why she thought to make it, since it would be a nice cool, yet hearty, treat. Even warm, the potatoes and onions with a hint of garlic and spices and some fresh parsley were such a nice break from the rich, hot casseroles we were accustomed to.

Another recipe that I have tried to re-create from memory and endless taste-tests, the credit goes to my sister-in-law, Fatma, for the basis. The exact process is what I’m unsure of, but it tastes very similar so I make it this way each time.

2 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and boiled until “al dente” (you should be able to just prick them without them being too soft)

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife and minced

salt and pepper

1/2 of a large red onion (you can use white as well) sliced into rings

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. cumin

Boil the potatoes and drain.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions. Saute lightly until softened, but do not caramelize.

Toss in the potatoes, add the spices and stir until mixed and until the potatoes are coated, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, while stirring. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice and stir until combined.

You can eat this warm as a side dish, or chill it for a nice summer salad. It is also a great dish to make in advance.


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