Picnic-safe potato salad skips the mayo

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

In 1987, the National Pork Board introduced an advertising campaign presenting pork as “the other white meat.” I thought the ad was very clever, even if a bit disingenuous and misleading. Following their lead, I’d like to start my own campaign for, if not exactly “the other potato salad,” one that is quite different than what is found in the deli case.

Every family has a potato salad recipe that has been handed down for generations. Some include pickles, hard boiled eggs, celery, onions or none of the above. One ingredient, though, is a constant — mayonnaise. Today I’d like to invite you to think “outside the jar” for a different type of potato preparation.

Aloo achaar is a spicy potato salad that hails from the kingdom of Nepal. Tasty and tangy, it is a mainstay of every Nepali meal. Like American potato salad, aloo achaar has many variations.

The dressing is made with a combination of ground sesame seeds and lemon juice. Spice and crunch are provided by the addition of minced jalapeño peppers. If you don’t like hot food, green or red bell peppers could be substituted. To up the veggie content, you could add green onions and cucumbers as well.

As an extra selling point, because it contains no mayonnaise, the recipe is vegan. For the same reason, you don’t have to worry about spoilage during warm weather.

Aloo achaar can be served cold or at room temperature. It tastes even better the next day. Rather than remaining a bland side dish for whatever is on the grill, it is savory enough to be the centerpiece of your next picnic.

Aloo Achaar

6 medium waxy potatoes, red or white skin

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

2 jalapeño peppers, finely minced (or substitute 2 tablespoons minced bell pepper)

4 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Place the potatoes whole in a medium-size pot to boil. Salt the water. There is no need to peel the potatoes. Cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they can be pierced through with the tip of a knife. Be careful not to overcook.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat a small cast iron frying pan and add the sesame seeds. Toast the sesame seeds for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly so they don’t jump out of the pan.

When the seeds are cool, use a small food processor or spice grinder to grind them into a fine powder. Combine the ground sesame seeds, lemon juice, salt and peppers in a bowl.

Whisk in the sesame oil and vegetable oil. Mix well. Add the minced cilantro and mix again.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain the pot. While the potatoes are still hot, cut them into 1-inch cubes. Mix gently with the dressing.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at julietrulie11@gmail.com.