Best Spuds for Salads

There are thousands of varieties of potatoes, but the best ones for salads have low starch (also called waxy or boiling) or moderate starch. They're perfect because their high moisture content and dense texture means they hold their shape well and have an appealingly tender-but-firm consistency when chilled. Look for these types.

New Potatoes These are simply young potatoes of any variety that have been harvested early in the season, before full maturity. All new potatoes are small, but not all small potatoes are new. (Potatoes are sorted according to size and designated A (largest), B or C (smallest).) The identifying characteristic of new potatoes is their papery skin, which you can often rub off with your fingers. The smallest, youngest new potatoes are called creamers. A seasonal delicacy, new potatoes don't require peeling and have a sweeter flavor than mature potatoes.

Red Potatoes Their thin skin, which doesn't need to be peeled, adds appealing color to salads. Red potatoes are widely available at supermarkets year-round and are the most common waxy type. Look for Red Bliss or Red Pontiac, two popular varieties.

Yellow-Fleshed Potatoes These medium-starch potatoes are widely appreciated because their yellow-gold flesh gives them the illusion of having a buttery taste. Yukon Gold is the most popular variety, but there are numerous other ones, including Yellow Finn and German Butterball.

Blue/Purple Potatoes With a medium starch content and a subtle nutty flavor, blue potatoes add color to salads (think 4th of July red, white and blue potato salad). The best way to preserve the blue hue is to cook them in the microwave.

Fingerlings There are numerous varieties of these heirloom potatoes, which resemble fat fingers. They can be found in a rainbow of colors, including gold, yellow, red, brown or purple. Fingerlings have a thin skin, a low starch content and a nutty flavor. Two popular varieties are Russian Banana and French Fingerling.

When boiling low-starch potatoes, start them in cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high (not high) heat. Heating waxy potatoes too quickly causes them to turn gluey.

Now try making New Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto!


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