No mayo Greek style potato salad
It’s been quite a while, since our last post. But we are finally back! Many things happened during this summer, some of which were good and some of which were terrible.
On the positive side of our news, we decided, after living together for some years, to get married. We were so happy to officially tie the knot, and then we went to the island of Kythira for our honeymoon. The island was really beautiful and we had a great time there, with good food, swimming and sightseeing.
However, this summer –as many of you many have learned through the news- another tragedy hit Greece. Huge wildfires burned thousands of homes, and the worst part was that 100 people, many of them children were perished. The wildfires burned in the outskirts of Athens, near a beach. The seaside village of Mati, has been literally wiped off the map and the stories coming from the area were truly heartbreaking. It still hurts too much when we talk about this. Because of the tragedy, and out of respect for the victims lost by the sea, we decided that we will not share photos from sunny summer beaches in this post.
For pictures from our lives in Greece, that always accompany our posts, we decided that we will share some, from our trip to the mountains of Karpenisi, back in spring.
A trip to Karpenisi
During the last spring, we visited Karpenisi. This is a town situated in central Greece, in the southern part of the Pindus mountain range. The town is inside a valley, surrounded by the mountains; you can see it in the first photo of this post. The building on the hill is a hotel with a great view of the town. There are many small B&Bs in the area, especially in small villages that are spread in the slopes around Karpenisi. We stayed in one of these picturesque villages, and the photos next, are from our visits in such villages.
The food in Karpenisi was really good! All the taverns/restaurants in the area have great food and serve you with a smile. We had traditional dishes like fasolada bean soup, cuttlefish and spinach stew, grilled local trout from the rivers of the area (served with boiled wild greens in EVOO-lemon), grilled meats, and we enjoyed all these dishes with amazing views of rivers, streams and dense forests with firs! The desserts were mostly traditional as well; we had orange pie (a syrup-drenched orange cake), walnut pie (syrup-drenched cake with ground walnut), galaktoboureko (a delicious custard with filo) and many more delicacies.
If you ever visit the area make sure to have/rent a car, so you can get to the villages and the mountains around Karpenisi. The place is really unique and perhaps not classically Mediterranean. Perhaps it may remind one of old mountain villages in central Italy or villages in the mountains of southern France. There’s peace and quiet here, and doesn’t have that touristy-feel of other places.
The authentic atmosphere in the area around Karpenisi, made this trip really memorable. We still remember how much we enjoyed visiting small cafes in these old villages to have some herbal teas, looking at the view around us in a zen-like state :) If you ever come to Greece in the winter, do try the sideritis mountain tea, called “tsai tou vounou”, usually served with honey in villages throughout the country. It has a unique flavor and it’s perfect for the immune system, the digestion and the shortness of breath. Just perfect when you walk up and down the slopes!
By the way, at the north of Karpenisi, there’s also a ski resort, which was closed because of the season. We bet it’ll be amazing during winter.
Another delicious find, was a small mushroom shop in the village of Voutyro. The guys working at the shop explained us many things about mushrooms, as they also have a small exhibition with various species. They forage mushrooms from the mountains of the area and are really passionate about what they do. We bought some of their products, our favorite being a bug of dried morels. These were cooked with good butter and a little parsley upon our return to Athens and were really amazing! By far one the best mushroom varieties we ever had.
No mayo Greek style potato salad
When we returned to Athens, the weather changed and it got really warm. Summer came a bit early this year. So, we started having BBQs and grilling a LOT of fish (for some unexplained reason). Of course, we also had one of our favorite BBQ treats: Thai-marinated turkey chops! Also lots of chicken and pork chops (yes, perhaps you may get a strange impression that we love having BBQs, right?).
What is also a must at every BBQ? A good salad (of course!). What’s one of the most popular salads in BBQs? A potato salad! We shared a couple of potato salads in the past on the blog, like the no-mayo gorgonzola potato salad (a delicious blue-cheese and walnut salad) and the roasted peppers potato salad [https://www.littlecookingtips.com/content/sensational-potato-salad-roasted-red-peppers] (a very old post, please be gentle with us when you take a look at the photo and the text).
The potato salad that we’ll share with you here is definitely a favorite, and it also has Greek ingredients. We call this a “Greek style” no-mayo salad, as it contains olives, capers and feta. You can also have this as a meal, since it also has protein because of the cheese. And the leftovers are amazing, especially if you have them with hard boiled eggs, to stir things up!
This potato salad is healthier than most potato salads, as it is lower in fat. Why is that? Because it doesn’t have a ton of mayo in it, like most similar salads. It actually has good fats, like extra virgin olive oil. It’s a salad with lots of taste without the calories of a traditional potato salad, so it’s great if you’re looking for ways to lower the calorie intake.
This doesn’t mean though that it lacks anything in flavor! No one will feel like they are missing out. It’s not a bland salad, no, not at all. It has a wonderful texture from the soft potatoes and olives, the crumbly feta and the crunchy onion and parsley. It has slightly salty and vinegary flavors from the olives and the capers which pair amazing with the slightly sweet and sharp balsamic-honey-mustard dressing! All these flavors, along with the cheesy feta give so much taste and elevate the humble potatoes. So, each bite is super yummy!
One of the things that make or break a potato salad is the dressing; in this salad, we think the quantity is just right: it’s not a dry salad. If you do prefer more dressing though, please, by all means, double the ingredients and make some more!
By the way, blending the dressing in the food processor is very important for proper emulsification. Do not skip this step and whisk by hand. The processor makes all the difference! And always keep in mind, that potatoes need a lot of salt. So add a some salt in the salad but also add some in the dressing.
For this recipe, like with any potato salad, you should prefer waxy over starchy potatoes. Red potatoes or Yukon gold are really perfect for this. Of course, you can also use baby potatoes, Russet, yellow or white potatoes as well.
And like with many similar recipes, you can make many variations of this salad. For instance, you can also add finely chopped red bell peppers! You can add jalapenos for a spicier taste. You can add chunks of gherkins instead of capers. You can add chives or dill instead of parsley. The possibilities are endless and we’d love to hear about variations that you tried, to make this salad your own!
This is also a potato salad that tastes amazing served at room temperature. So you can have the boiled potatoes drained and waiting at the colander and prepare and serve the salad at the last moment. No need to make it ahead. The flavors will be there. This makes it a great last-minute potato salad you can bring with you at any BBQ!
So let’s see how to make this sweet and sour, delicious, Greek-style potato salad!
- 500g / 17.5oz / 1lb potatoes*
- 35g (3 tablespoons) kalamata olives, pitted **
- 20g (2 tablespoons) capers
- 40g (1/4 cup) red onion, finely chopped
- 15g (4 tablespoons) fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 100-120g / 3.5-4 oz (about 3/4 cup) feta, cubed
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 garlic clove (1 teaspoon), minced
- salt, pepper
* Prefer waxy potatoes like Yukon gold, or red potatoes. You can use other varieties as well though, like baby potatoes, Russet, Yellow or White potatoes. Ourselves, we prefer a French baby potato variety that is widely available here in Europe.
** You can also use whole kalamata olives as-is (add 5-8 olives), or cut 35g (3 tablespoons) of slices from whole olives.
If you plan to leave the skin on, rinse the potatoes and place them in a large bowl with enough water to cover them. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar (pic. 1) and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then, scrub their surface with a brush (pic. 2), rinse and set aside. If you don’t want the skin on, simply rinse and then peel the potatoes.
At the same time with the potatoes: let the capers sit in a bowl with a cup or two of water, for about 10 minutes; then drain them in a fine sieve. Keep them in the –now- empty bowl (pic. 3).
Place the potatoes in a medium sized pot, cover them with water and add 1-2 tablespoons of salt (pic. 4). Bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer them for 10-12 minutes (depending on their size). The potatoes are ready, once you can easily pierce them with a fork. When ready, drain them in a colander (pic. 5) and let them cool so you can handle them.
To make the dressing, add the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, the mustard, the honey, the garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor (pic. 6). Pulse for about 1 minute (pic.7).
Chop the potatoes to desired size chunks (we prefer about 3-5cm / 1-1.5 inch each) in a bowl. Add the olives, the capers (pic. 8), the onion, the parsley, a little salt and pepper (pic. 9). Mix gently with a spoon to combine (pic. 10).
Serve with the dressing on top, or on the side so that anyone can add in his plate.
1. You can add more garlic (up to two cloves) if you prefer a strong garlicky flavor in the dressing.
2. You can also use Dijon mustard instead, if you prefer a spicier dressing.
3. Do try to chop the potatoes in smaller pieces (about 2.5cm/1 inch). When the chunks are smaller the flavors are better distributed in the salad and you don’t get bland bites.
4. You can also add chives or dill instead of parsley. If you don’t like capers, you can also substitute them with gherkins.
5. Potatoes do need a lot of salt, so don’t be afraid to add salt both in the salad and the dressing.
6. Any leftovers are amazing as a meal with the addition of some hard boiled eggs!
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