my favourite potato salad

likeyWhilst wandering my local farmer’s market last weekend, I noticed a large basket of dark, speckled tubers labelled purple congo potatoes. They were fascinating, thin and knobbly like kipflers wrapped in dusty black strips of parchment.

Being a sucker for new ingredients, I soon filled a bag and squirreled it home with fresh asparagus, artichokes and golden cherry tomatoes. Four days later, I threw together my default potato salad as a contribution to a barbecue at a friend’s place.

pinenuts springonions

This potato salad isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill mayonnaise fest. By incorporating creamy goats cheese, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and a splash of bacon fat, the salad retains just the right amount of creaminess without masking the freshness of the boiled potatoes, herbs and cherry tomatoes.

Salty bacon adds some savoury complexity whilst toasted pine nuts add a sprinkle of necessary crunch. It’s the kind of salad that I can’t get enough of, as there’s variance in every bite.

purplespuds purplecut

As you can tell from the photographs above, purple congos aren’t the most attractive of the tuber family. They’re rather squat, ribbed and speckled, bearing more resemblance to excrement than food. Their flesh is dry and rather floury after cooking so I definitely wouldn’t recommend them for roasting or chips. When boiled, they retain a firm but dry texture that soaks up butter or olive oil beautifully. They’re also wonderful in creamy (purple) mash.

This salad doesn’t have to be made from purple congo potatoes; in fact, it works even better with other waxy or all-rounder potatoes such as spuntas, Ruby Lou, Dutch creams, kipflers or bintjes. The only advantage of the purple congo is its inky colour variance that emerges upon cutting to luckily be retained after cooking.


As with most other dark-pigmented vegetables (e.g. beetroot, red cabbage) purple congos stain terribly. I’d encourage you to use an old chopping board whilst preparing them. Wash all utensils as soon as possible to prevent staining.


My Favourite Potato Salad

Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 500g waxy or all-rounder potatoes (I used a mixture of purple congo and royal blue)
  • 200g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 175g bacon rashers, finely diced
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 spring onions (shallots)
  • handful of washed Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon (plus some juice)
  • 100g goats cheese, crumbled
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1-2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper

Wash your potatoes and remove any eyes or blemished skin. Chop into even pieces (about 2cm x 2cm) and place into a pot of fresh salted water.


Boil over medium heat until the potatoes are firm but tender (easily pierced with a knife but not falling apart; don’t worry if your water turns blackish-green, that’s normal with purple congos). Drain and place into a large bowl.

In the meantime, heat a good splash of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bacon and Spanish onion, then cook on low to medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 10 minutes; agitate the pan as required).


Add to the still-warm* potatoes (including the residual fat from the pan) with the lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside to cool slightly.

*adding the dressing to the potatoes whilst they’re still warm allows them to soak up a lot of gorgeous flavour in the dressing. If your potatoes have cooled completely, warm them in the microwave briefly before adding the olive oil, lemon, balsamic and residual bacon fat.


Add in the rest of the ingredients alongside another squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well and season to taste.


I like to serve this salad alongside some simple grilled meat or fish with another bowl of fresh green leaves.

*It’s also perfect as an abstract take on potato hash: Splash a little bit of oil onto the base of a medium heavy-based pan. Add in enough salad to cover the bottom of the pan. Make a couple of ‘indents’ into which you can crack a couple of eggs. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is crisp and golden and the egg whites are set. Serve with a green salad.

sideplate2 potatoplate fin

97 responses

    • Thanks so much Suzanne. Yep, I’m the same… I do like traditional potato salad every now and then, but I’d always choose a mayonnaise free version over a cloggy one!

  1. “Looking more like excrement than food.” You really know how to sell it, don’t you, Laura?! But it put me in mind of my husband’s expression the other day when he pulled what appeared to be a large dog doodoo, wrapped in cling film out of the freezer. It lay heavily on his hand, round and long and dark and his eyes told me that I had frozen some strange things in the past, but WHAT THE HELL? “Fudgey chocolate cookie dough,” I said, most innocently, batting my eyelids ever so slightly. :) His relief was palpable.

    But on to this salad, which looks absolutely stunning, even with the ugly potatoes, or perhaps because of them. Love the colors and the flavors! Frankly, I was sold from “a splash of bacon fat.”

    • Yeah, my comparison came from my husband also. He saw the potatoes, we both looked at each other and he said “hm, doesn’t make for a very nice photo”. I replied, “yep, it looks like poop in a bowl!”. But regardless, I decided to add in one of the shots. The more I look at it, the more my mind seems to accept the poop-like potatoes as beautiful :) LOVE the story about your husband and the fudgy chocolate poop log! Hahaha! My husband would’ve done the same thing. A log of chocolate goodness sounds awesome, by the way. Wish I found that in my freezer! Thanks for the lovely words Stace. Yep, bacon = awesomeness xx

  2. This looks so good! I just discovered the fun of all the various colors/types of potatoes this summer. I’ve had a great time using them in various side dishes. Looks like I need to have some potato salad soon. :)

    • Hello there Julie! Thanks so much for the comment. It’s amazing how many types of potatoes (or tubers, in general) there are. I’m just discovering some of the more unusual ones myself. Makes dinnertime so much more interesting :) The weather is warming up here so it’s definitely becoming salad season. I love springtime (hope you’re enjoying your fall season too!) xx

  3. What’s your trick to keeping the purple potatoes from staining everything? That’s always the problem I have when they’re in the mix. Suddenly, as soon as I toss things together, everything’s a muddy shade of purple.

    • Hey there Pacific Merchants. Hard question! During the boiling process, the colour seemed to leach out from the purple potatoes (the water turned a greenish-black) but it didn’t transfer across to the cream potatoes at all. Not sure why… this might be particular to purple congos as they are rather dry and floury. Straight after boiling, I drained the potatoes, rinsed them and then doused them in olive oil. I imagine that this further inhibited colour transfer during the mixing process. This technique doesn’t work with beetroot though. Everything turns red, whichever way I cook them, darn it! Thanks for the comment.

    • Thanks for the lovely comment. Just took a look at your BEAUTIFUL blog… love the photographs, the beautiful words and the wholesome recipes. Following you from now on. Wish I could visit that lingonberry heaven you’re currently experiencing. Makes me miss Scandinavia a lot xx

  4. Laura, just up my alley … I don’t like mayonnaise based potato salads … I love the colors in yours – stunning salad – when I do potato salad I keep the potatoes warm and I mix most of the dressing with them – so they really soak up all the flavors from the dressing and it also make the salad less soaked in dressing. Or I heat the dressing up and mix it with the cold potatoes. I tried your asparagus with soft boiled egg today – excellent but I added some bacon to the dish and I decided to use up what I had at home, so there was a slight change to recipe. I loved it. Post will come about the adventure.
    So I will bookmark this too .. can be one of my leftover dinners. Just love the last photo – it tells it all … *smile

    • Tack Viveka! I do exactly the same thing when making my potato salads. Mixing the dressing in with the warm potatoes makes it a lot easier to distribute too! Glad that the asparagus and egg dish worked for you. The additional bacon sounds wonderful. I look forward to reading your post, as I do with all of your posts. I hope that you’re doing ok. I am a little angry about how life is treating you. If I win lotto, I’m coming to visit and I’ll cook you dinner! xx

      • Laura, I had a fantastic life and I nearly never been sick as such – so soon or later it was bound to happen and now it doesn’t stop. One thing after the other. Today it has been a rough day again … but I have been having lunch with a girlfriend so that kept my mind of my problems in some ways. I will do the post this week if I’m able to sit *smile.
        Checked the photos today and they seems to be okay.

      • Hmm, however healthy you were before, you don’t deserve this period of suffering. I do hope there’ll be some reprieve soon. Me on the other hand? I was quite sick as a teenager and continue to suffer from bits and pieces (minor in comparison, but annoying all the same) so maybe I will be strong as an ox in old age. Hope so! :) I look forward to seeing your post whenever you’re well enough to complete it. No rush. Hugs xx

      • Laura, it happens to so many of us …. when reaching the retirement age problems starts and all the dreams we wanted to fulfill goes to dust – not fair. Still I try my best to have a normal life … even if the side effects do limit me a bit. So I understand what you’re say about your complications – they can be very annoying at times, but both body and soul accepts the problems better by the day. Even a pain.A big hug … comes back to you.

    • Thanks lovely. Yeah, the vibrant purple was definitely a treat to look at. I love eating lots of different colours, it’s such a fun way to get nutrition. I want to try golden beets next! xx

  5. Gorgeous salad! It looks like a symphony of textures and colors from where I stand. I recently had occasion to cook with a purple potato (just one, so cute) and was utterly charmed by it throughout the process. Your photography keeps getting more and more breathtaking. and love your closeups.

    • Thanks Azita. It was lots of fun to eat… I love anything with lots of texture and colour :) Re the purple potato, I get equally fascinated by unusual vegetables! I was staring at the cut surface for ages and ended up holding it up to the light to see the little patterns in the vibrant purple. I think my husband thought I was mad (actually, he didn’t… he’s used to my foodie weirdness. Hopefully that’s a good thing!). Thanks for the kind words about the photographs. It’s so much fun using the new camera. I will forever be indebted to my mother for the present! xx

    • It’s a really strange potato. I loved the colour but from a flavour perspective, it was definitely outranked by the regular cream waxy potatoes. Worked well in the salad though. Added a special punch of colour ;)

    • Thanks so much hon. Was lots of fun taking the photos, I am loving the new DSLR! Aaron and I went for a walk yesterday and I took photos of everything… the pavement, twigs, walls… ha! We’re going to end up needing a new hard drive to store the photos :) xx

  6. Oh yeah, gimme. I love a spud salad, especially one that’s not too mayo-laden, not to mention the holy-trinity of bacon, feta and pine nuts. I’ve just planted some purple potatoes (can’t remember the variety), because, like you, I can’t resist the new, I keep thinking about all the fluro purple dishes I’m going to be knocking out in a few months. #GettingMyEightiesOn.

    • Thanks Jen. Holy trinity is definitely right… such an awesome combination. When your purple potatoes are ready to harvest, can you make some sort of potato-topped pie?! Shepherds pie, spinach and feta pie with a purple potato top (ah, I like the sound of the last one. Like some sort of pureed superhero costume!), purple chips with green chile ketchup. I think I need to buy me more purple potatoes #eightieskidsrock

  7. Although I’ve seen purple potatoes, Laura, none look quite like these nor have I seen a potato salad that comes near to looking as good as yours. I do enjoy a mayo-based potato salad but it makes these kinds of flavors impossible. I have to see what I can find at the farmers market this weekend. I feel a potato salad coming on. :)

    • Aw, thanks so much for the kind words John. This was the first time I had come across fresh purple potatoes, though I’d seen a few recipes around the blogosphere. Wish I could make a batch of this salad for you! We could eat it with your slow braised harissa goat… that’s had me drooling all afternoon. Can’t wait to try your recipe :)

  8. Well, if this isn’t just the most beautiful potato salad, I don’t know what is. I made one with purple potatoes and a bacon fat-based dressing this summer, but I never thought to add goat cheese! Oh, that is a gloriously perfect addition, indeed!

    • Thanks so much beautiful Stephie. Great minds think alike, your salad sounds really similar to mine! I am a bit of a goats cheese obsessive so I tend to add it to everything. It definitely complimented the bacon, pine nuts and herbs perfectly. Perfect for our slowly-improving weather (cannot wait for summer!) xx

  9. The purple potatoes look too cool for school. The dish looks delicious, great for the warmer weather we are starting to get :)
    Love MIM xx

    • I agree completely MIM. I’m loving the warmer days, it’s so nice to go out of the house without bringing a jacket! Yay for salad days and bright vegetable blog posts. Thanks for taking the time to write! xx

  10. Wow, what stunning potatoes and salad, I just love the purple contrasting with creamy coloured potatoes. I also like non-mayonnaise potato salads, and my favourite uses a kind of pesto as dressing. As I discovered one year when cooking in a holiday house, hand chopped pesto is the best tasting, but sadly also the most laborious.

    • Thanks lovely one! I definitely agree re the colour contrast, it lifts the dish completely. Ah, pesto. I love pretty much anything with pesto in it! I’ve made hand-chopped and mortar-and-pestle versions of pesto also; I definitely agree that the hand prepared versions are far superior to those made in a food processor. It’s definitely laborious but I love it. There’s something therapeutic about using a mortar and pestle :) x

  11. Funny. One of my (many) draft posts is on these same potatoes, which I found at a new local farm. I was beside myself with joy as, here in the U.S., unique and flavorful potatoes are so hard to find. I desperately miss the UK potatoes.

    Although now I’ll have to rework the photos in my potato post as a new standard has been set with your gorgeous collection :-)

    And your salad looks terrific!

    • Haha, I have lots of draft posts also. I should revisit some of them as they’re just sitting and gathering dust! I love UK potatoes also. They taste much nicer than Australian ones… I wonder if it’s something to do with the soil? British new potatoes are some of my favourites, boiled with a little butter and salt. So delicious. I’d love to see your potato post, I’ll keep an eye out (though I am sure your photos are wonderful!!) xx

    • Hello beautiful. Thanks so much for the kind words, I appreciate it hugely. I love potatoes. They’re one of my all-time favourite foods! Hope that you manage to track down some purple congos, but even if you don’t, this salad will be perfect with delicious British spuds (SO much nicer than Aussie ones). By the way, I love your croissant post. I’ve been dreaming about them all day… perfect photos! xx

  12. I can tell that you are just loving the 50mm lens!!!! And in the process making me incredibly jealous. Not only do I not have a 50mm lens but my beloved Canon 40D has died with no chance of a comeback. The phone camera is just not cutting it! :)
    The photos in this post are stunning. Who would have thought that the humble spud could become a work of art. Out of all the photos (which are amazing) by fav by far is the one of the bowl of raw potatoes – I could frame that one. The last photo of the fork and empty plate looks like a fitting end for that beautiful salad! xx

    • Haha, YES! I’m loving it (I think the 50mm has swiftly become my favourite). Photography is so much more enjoyable when you have good equipment. Along that vein, I am so sorry to hear that your Canon 40D carked it. What happened?! Is technology expensive in Jordan? :(
      Thanks for the kind words re the photos. I was initially concerned about the bowl of potatoes (which still looks like a bowl of poop to me) but it works well amongst the other shots. I definitely devoured this salad with gusto. Yay for the humble spud! xx

      • I love taking photos and definitely feeling lost without my beloved DSLR! As far as I can tell the power circuit board has died (deducing from the reading that I’ve done on the internet) and the replacement part and getting it fixed actually costs more than the camera is worth. Alia and I are back in Australia for Christmas (no chance you being on the east coast at all? – just throwing it there!!! ) so hoping to pick up a new camera when I’m back. The import tax in Jordan of 48% makes buying anything like this ridiculously expensive.

      • Aw no. It often seems that repairs cost more than replacement these days (same with my last laptop, so I just got a new one!). Good idea to get another during your Aussie trip with that ridiculous import tax…! Far out. Re Christmas, it’s entirely possible that we might be over the east side! There’s nothing booked as yet but I’ll have a chat to Aaron. Whereabouts are you staying? Watch this space, would be amazing to see you both! xx

  13. This is so fantastic, dear Laura, with tricolor potatoes and so many other fine ingredients! I bet it has been the big hit at the barbecue. The pics look so wonderful, I get the feeling I could take my fork and grab some of your potato salad right from the computer display ;-).

    • Aw, thank you lovely Claudia! It was lots of fun to make and there wasn’t even a smidgeon of leftovers! Wish you could’ve been here. My husband and I are planning a trip to Berlin next year, in the European summer, so maybe we can grab a beer together then? I always appreciate you taking the time to write! xx

      • Let’s do it! I’ll keep in touch with you and let you know dates. Aaron has been to Berlin before (he loved it and started taking lessons in German but it has since dried up a bit due to lack of conversation) but I haven’t. I can’t wait… always open to travel tips etc! xx

    • Hello there lovely! So nice to hear from you! It’s been ages since we’ve had a proper ‘chat’, I hope that you’re doing well. Life’s good over here (loving this spring weather!) xx

  14. Such gorgeous local Farmer’s salad – the beautiful and fresh herbs, the soft potatoes, the tanginess from the cherry tomatoes, and the delicious seasoning. I think the potato salad will be tasty without the use of goat cheese & bacon rashers…as long as it has plenty of fresh herbs & tasty dressing.

    • Thanks for the kind words. You’re completely right, it’s the balance that makes it delicious. A vegan version would be equally wonderful… I think I’d just add in some extra nuts and possibly some avocado for creaminess. My husband loves bacon though, so there’s always bacon in our version! xx

  15. This potato salad looks awesome, as all your recipes do, dear Laura!
    The idea of adding purple congos to it was genius as (i) it added that incredibly attractive purple touch and (ii) you taught me about purple congos, that I had never even heard of before! :-)
    Great recipe and awesome photography as always, Laura :-)
    A big hug

    • Thanks Stefano! Always so lovely to hear from you :) This was my first time venturing into the world of purple congos! I love discovering new foods, particularly unusual vegetables. It makes each eating experience so much richer. Your photography compliments always mean a lot too my friend. I have huge, huge respect for your skills in that area. Hugs!

  16. Great pictures, as always. And fun recipe – those potatoes, although unattractive in their raw state, are gorgeous cooked. Really good stuff – thanks so much.

    • Thanks John! Haha, you’re entirely right… they become beautiful after a bit of chopping and mixing. The colour is so vibrant… made me move past the ‘poo in a bowl’ comment from my husband (and myself!). I always appreciate you stopping by :)

  17. Um, YUM! This looks fantastic!
    I love those purple potatoes– we call them fingerling potatoes where I live. They’re in a couple of the dishes in the restaurant I work at, and I often get asked by guests what they are. I think people not familiar with them are nervous that they’re rotten potatoes, haha.

    Nothing ruins a good potato salad like a pool of dressing– or a mayonnaise fest, haha!– so I’m pretty sure I would LOVE this recipe! I’ve also started to really enjoy goat cheese, so I really MUST make this soon. :D

    Wonderful recipe and photos!!!

    • Hey there Ali! Thanks for the lovely words. Haha, I would understand people’s concern if they hadn’t eaten them before. They’re pretty unusual looking. I love goats cheese. It’s one of my favourite things at the moment so I’m putting it in everything :) There are lots of different varieties though; I tend to buy the creamy mild versions as opposed to the strong salty ones. Thanks again lovely! xx

  18. Gorgeous photos, as always Laura. Love your description of purple congos! That’s hilarious, and I know my son will get a giggle out of that. I plan to try this salad (such an amazing combination of textures) and when I do, I’ll be sure to refer to them as purple poos.

    • Haha, yep, purple poos in a bowl! I couldn’t get it out of my head after Aaron and I started laughing! The salad in itself was lovely though. The vibrant purple made it so much more interesting :) Thanks lovely! xx

  19. Purple potatoes?! What a perfect way to add a unique twist to potato salad! I saw some purple potatoes at a winter farmers market when I lived in Wisconsin a couple years ago. I was intrigued but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with them. You found a great way incorporate them into a classic dish.

    • Thanks Heather. They’re pretty beautiful aren’t they? They worked brilliantly in a classic potato dish. I wanted to try chips but after some reading I’ve decided that frying them would be a terrible failure (dry, floury type potatoes). Definitely give them a go next time you see them. They’re delicious xx

  20. I’ve always been a bit unsure of purple potatoes when I saw them. Those doubts have been put to rest after looking at this salad. I love all the other ingredients that you added in and the dressing is equally amazing. Your salad must have been the highlight of the barbecue!

    • Hello lovely. Yep, I definitely know what you mean about the uncertainty. They’re strange looking potatoes but they taste great! Haha.. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for salads amongst my friends. It’s definitely incorrect when people say ‘…you don’t make friends with salad’!! xx

    • Hello lovely. Haha, yep, it’s a pretty boring name isn’t it?! I thought twice about posting it under that moniker but then my decision was, “you know what? That’s what it is! My favourite!”. So the name stuck. It’s definitely delicious :) xx

  21. yumm! this looks like my kinda salad! love that flavour combo and your food photography is wonderful :)
    i would love this for lunch or dinner any day! :D

  22. I love hearing about everyone’s favourite potato salad versions—they vary so greatly…and oh my goodness this is honestly the most appealing I’ve seen in recent memory. Honestly, who needs mayonnaise when you have goat cheese, pine nuts, balsamic, and bacon? This is definitely getting made. Thank you for this!

  23. Wow, this salad looks and sounds lovely! And it’s so far away from what I think of as “traditional” potato salad, it’s like you could come up with a whole other word for this dish; it looks to me like you’ve elevated potato salad to a whole new genre of its own.

    I don’t eat bacon, but I could see substituting (<– probably the wrong word for this) some sundried tomatoes—alongside the fresh cherry tomatoes of course. I love all the Mediterranean flavors you have going here!

    • Thanks Allison! It was lots of fun to make… I love colourful, vibrant salads at any time of the year. The sundried tomatoes sound like a fantastic addition (substitution suits in my book!). I might try that next time. Thanks for taking the time to write! xx

  24. Pingback: Picnics and Caramelised Onion Foccacia « Laura's Mess

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