It may sound a bit obvious, but for Pete Evans the key to a great potato salad is using the right potatoes.
"I love to use a small waxy variety for salad," says Evans, an Australian chef, restaurateur and cookbook author. "Baby new potatoes in red or white, or fingerlings will work great, too. You do need to choose the right potato for the job."
Of course, what you do with the potatoes matters, too. He says the only way to cook the potatoes is whole. And be careful how you dress them.
"I like the earthy flavor of the potato skin to come through my salad," he said in an email interview. "For me that's what can make an ordinary salad taste extra ordinary — skin on! Then don't make the mistake of drowning the potatoes in a heavy mayonnaise. Vinaigrettes or just herbs and olive oil (particularly dill), salt and pepper are all you need for a quick and easy dressing."
For AP's 20 Salads of Summer series, Evans selected a recipe for potato salad with smoked trout and watercress from his latest book, "My Grill: Outdoor Cooking Australian Style."
"The potato salad I have chosen uses smoked trout, which is a perfect match with the creamy potatoes and crunchy green apple. Texture is as important as flavor when developing recipes and this one nails both of those elements. It will work with smoked salmon or any kind of smoked fish if trout is not available."
Potato Salad with Smoked Trout and Watercress
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 pounds fingerling potatoes
4-ounce bag watercress
16 ounces smoked trout
8-ounce container (1 cup) creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Ground black pepper
12 fresh chives, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cool water to cover by 1 inch, then salt the water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then rinse under cool water. Arrange the potatoes on a kitchen towel to cool and dry completely.
Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice water. Add the watercress and set aside to crisp.
Remove any skin and bones from the trout, then flake the flesh into chunks. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the creme fraiche and mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
When the potatoes have cooled and dried, slice them into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the potatoes to the creme fraiche mixture, gently stirring to coat.
Drain and dry the watercress, then in a large bowl combine it, the flaked trout, chives, apple slices, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss well.
To serve, arrange a quarter of the potatoes on each serving plate, then top with the watercress-trout mixture. Drizzle each serving with a bit of the final tablespoon of olive oil.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 363 calories; 122 calories from fat (34 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 32 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 3 g fiber; 400 mg sodium.