published Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Side Orders: Tater chips go well in tater salad

Have you planned your July Fourth menu? If so, it most likely includes potato salad. And if you're like me, you're always looking for something a little different.

Traditional potato salad with basic ingredients such as celery, onion, salt and mayonnaise is good. But I love trying new recipes, and one I found on Southern Living's website was intriguing. It takes a favorite dip -- spinach artichoke -- and blends in potatoes and potato chips. Hmm. Sounded good; so good, in fact, it took first place in Southern Living's BBQ Smackdown Side Dish contest a couple of years back. There were two reviews with both reviewers giving it five stars, so that convinced me it was worth a try. One reviewer wrote that she made it for a July Fourth gathering and everyone raved about it, even the kids. And as we all know, kids can be the pickiest, which makes them possibly the best judges.

If you find yourself wanting a change from boring potato salad this holiday weekend, this is it. Keep in mind that one of the best things of this dish is the texture the potato chips give the salad, so wait till the last minute to add them, otherwise they'll be a soggy mess.

I think you'll find this potato salad is an excellent diversion from your usual recipe. And though it will take a little longer than you may be used to, it's well worth the effort.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip Potato Salad

3 pounds small red potatoes

1 (9-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed kettle-cooked potato chips

Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover 20 to 25 minutes or just until tender. Drain; cool 15 minutes. Cut into cubes. Cook spinach according to package directions, and press between paper towels.

Whisk together cream cheese and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in artichoke hearts, next 2 ingredients, and spinach; gently stir in potatoes. Sprinkle with potato chips; serve immediately. Makes 10-12 servings.


And speaking of potatoes, do you hate peeling them? Here's an easy method from the Idaho Potato Commission. It does away with potato peelers in favor of your hands.

Score potatoes around their middle with a sharp knife, then put them in boiling water. Allow to boil about 15 minutes or until tender, then plunge potatoes into ice water to cool. When cool enough to handle, pull the skin off with your hands. It's pretty much the same concept as skinning tomatoes, only you need to let the potatoes stay in the boiling water a good bit longer.

New on the market

There's a new burger in town: Cluck 'n Moo, made with a mixture of chicken and grass-fed beef, both raised with no antibiotics or added hormones or fed animal byproducts. I received a news release about it, mentioning that, since the price of beef is on the rise, this new burger would go easier on the pocketbook. Each 1-pound package contains four (4-ounce) patties and retails for $8.99.

At the time of my purchase, a man who worked in the fresh-meat department at Publix -- the only store in town currently selling Cluck 'n Moo -- told me that the highest-priced ground beef and ground chicken at Publix were both under $6.50 per pound. So, unless the price goes up more than $2 per pound, Cluck 'n Moo is not a bargain. But I went ahead and bought a package and put it to a taste test.

The packaging touts its homemade texture and taste and says it's the most-tender burger you'll ever sink your teeth into.

Know what? The advertising was right on target. I admit my surprise. The burger was excellent, tender and tasty. And I was skeptical about the size, but the 4-ounce patty was perfect. It filled me up but didn't overwhelm my waistline.

Another thing about this burger is that, if you're trying to cut back on your consumption of red meat, you can have your burger and eat it, too. It has 52 percent less fat and 32 percent fewer calories than regular beef. Once you add onion, tomato, lettuce and whatever other condiments you like, it's hard to tell that it's not 100 percent beef. You'll find it near the organic fresh-meat section in a small green box with a cow and chicken on the front.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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