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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Newfoundland Beet and Mustard Potato Salads


I was an adult before I ever remember seeing or tasting Beet or Mustard Potato Salad.  I'm sure they were around when I was growing up but I never knew anyone who made them.  I don't think my mother ever saw one herself until she ate it at my wedding.  A mashed potato salad with mixed vegetables was common enough, although it was never made at our house, but the bright pink and yellow salads were unknown to our household.

It was a curious thing to see a pink or yellow potato salad. The scoops of salad looked more like ice cream or sherbert and the thought of biting into potato was confusing to my mind.  I grew up eating a chunky salad containing potatoes, boiled eggs, apple, maybe a bit of onion and salad dressing so when I first saw the colourful salads on a cold plate I'm sure I must have asked what they were.  I'm sure my incredulous host would have wondered where I'd lived all my life.  In many Newfoundland kitchens they are the only potato salads that are ever made or enjoyed by families around the province.  

As long as I've known Don, he's loved Beet Salad so when we were to be married (many years ago) I included it on our wedding menu.  I asked Don's sister-in-law, Linda, to make the Beet Salad and she agreed.  To help her out I peeled all the potatoes and went the extra mile and boiled them.  Then I delivered the cold boiled potatoes to her house.  I don't know what she thought, and she didn't say a word to me, but both Beet and Mustard salad should be made with freshly made hot mashed potatoes.  Bless her heart, she made the salad, although it must have been a struggle trying to mash cold potatoes, and never gave me a word of complaint.  The salad was delicious and no one was the wiser about my cooking blunder.  

Of course, since that time I've learned to make a good Beet Salad ("good" being a very subjective adjective) and the Mustard Salad followed suit.  I've even made them vegan using vegan salad dressing.  As I mentioned above, both these salads start out with freshly made mashed potatoes for best results.  Anyone who makes these salad has their own twist on the recipe and no two are alike as each family has their own particular tastes. This is the definitive recipe for these salads only in my house.

When I make a Beet Salad I almost always make a Mustard Salad and vice versa...so I boil enough potatoes for both salads at the same time.  I also think mayonnaise makes a far superior salad but if you like salad dressing like Miracle Whip use that and enjoy.  And just a note to anyone who has never tasted either of these salads, they are more sweet than savoury, so therefore the sugar in the ingredient list. 



Newfoundland Beet and Mustard Potato Salads
 Each salad will give you 6-8 servings.



Start by peeling and slicing about 8-10 medium potatoes.  There should be enough to fill a 2-litre (quart) pot. 


Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until fork tender.  Drain and let dry off on the warm turned off burner.  



Mash potatoes until creamy and there are no lumps remaining.













Divide the mashed potatoes into two equal amounts. You should have about 3 cups of mashed potatoes in each amount.  Now you are ready to start making each salad.     


Beet Potato Salad
About 3 cups warm mashed potatoes
¼ cup pickled beets, drained (more or less to suit the colour you want)
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
⅓-½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
Milk as needed

In a medium sized bowl, mash the beets into the potatoes.  Add 1 tablespoon sugar and mayonnaise and mix well.  Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.  The mixture should be soft.  Add a little more mayonnaise or a dribble of milk if the salad seems too stiff.  Remember it will thicken as it chills.  Pile salad in serving dish and chill until ready to serve.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Use bright red pickled beets for best results.  I'm all out of my homemade beets so I had to use store-bought.  Mash and combine the beets with the potatoes and then add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.  Pile into a pretty serving dish and chill until ready to eat.


Mustard Potato Salad
About 3 cups warm mashed potatoes
2-3 tablespoon yellow mustard
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
cup mayonnaise or salad dressing 
1 green onion, sliced (Optional, but who'd want to make onions optional?)
1 boiled egg, chopped (Optional)
Milk as needed

In a medium sized bowl, mix the mashed potato, mustard, 1 tablespoon sugar and mayonnaise and mix well.  Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.  Add the onion and egg if using.  The mixture should be soft.  Add a little more mayonnaise or a dribble of milk if the salad seems too stiff.  Remember it will thicken as it chills.  Pile salad in serving dish and chill until ready to eat.  Makes 6-8 servings.

A bright yellow mustard gives a better colour to the salad.  This mustard is not very yellow.  Add the mustard, mayonnaise, sugar and onions to the mashed potatoes.  Mix well.  Add the eggs if you are using, and then pile into a nice serving dish and chill until ready to eat.  My daughter-in-law's mother, Verna, puts eggs in her Mustard salad and I thought it only improved an already great salad.


Beet and Mustard Potato Salads are traditional on a Newfoundland cold plate.  But you can have them anytime you want a potato salad with your meal.

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