A Winter Potato Salad

I absolutely love cooking with the seasons. It seems like the only way to cook, in spite of our modern American grocery stores supplying us year round with just about every fruit and vegetable that we demand. I’m so stubborn about this, I can’t even remember when I last bought a tomato, although I do purchase cherry tomatoes in the winter.

The concept is smart – stemming from the peasant way of preparing food, which involved using what you raised and what grew around you, whether you lived amongst olive groves in Italy, or on the coast of Greece. But it’s also a more fun way to cook. Cooking the same dishes using the same ingredients for me would get so boring month after month. It’s also less expensive using in-season produce.

I was recently at a hip, small-plates and shared-plates restaurant, and one of the vegetable offerings was asparagus. I, of course, had to make a comment about it not being in season, which was most likely met with silent snickers. In the end, I was outvoted. And it was terrible. Well, not terrible, but you could tell it wasn’t just-picked springtime asparagus. It may have been grown in a greenhouse nearby, but there’s still a difference.

In any case, because I cook seasonally, I bring you a winter version of potato salad. It contains red potatoes, Polish sausage, and Gruyere with a creamy vinaigrette, served at room temperature.

A few months ago I published a late summer potato salad with corn, because corn was abundant. I love creating seasonally different potato salads. Why not?!! In fact, they can end up being a meal, instead of a side.

So this is what I did.

Winter Potato Salad with Kielbasa and Gruyere

Salad:
8 small red potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces Polska Kielbasa, or Polish Sausage, sliced
1 large shallot, diced
8 ounces diced Gruyere, at room temperature

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Creamy dressing:
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yogurt, sour cream, or half and half
Approximately 1/3-1/2 cup prepared dressing*

To begin, quarter the potatoes and steam them until they’re just tender, or about 8 minutes. This, of course, depends on the size of your potato pieces. You just don’t want them so soft that they fall apart.

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Let the potatoes cool in the steamer basket. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, half and half or whatever product you want to make the vinaigrette creamy.

Then whisk in the vinaigrette. You can make it creamier, with a smaller amount of the vinaigrette, or stronger with more. It’s up to you.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over high heat and brown the sausage slices on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, place the sausage in a small bowl and set aside.

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Just for fun and flavor, I gently tossed the cooling potatoes in the remaining oil in the skillet. Then I placed them in a medium-sized bowl.

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Add about 1/4 cup of the creamy vinaigrette to the potatoes and toss gently. Set the bowl aside so the potatoes can cool further. However, if later you see that the potatoes have absorbed all of the vinaigrette, add a little more, or a little olive oil and toss gently.

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When the potatoes have completely cooled, add the sausage and about half of the diced shallot and stir gently. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Regarding the Gruyere, you can toss it in to the potato-sausage mixture, or sprinkle the dice on top just before serving, which is what I did. Just don’t add the cheese too early or it will melt. The texture of the room temperature cheese is a nice texture compliment with the potatoes and sausage.

Then sprinkle the remaining shallots and some parsley, if desired, for color.

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* The vinaigrette I used I’d prepared with olive oil and a combination of apple cider and balsamic vinegars. It also contained a little Dijon mustard, which goes so well when sausage is involved. I don’t typically toss any kind of salads with balsamic vinegar, because of the dark brown color; I tend to offer balsamic on its own. However, because the balsamic was cut with the apple cider vinegar, plus the mayo and half and half, it wasn’t too brown.

By Published On: February 16th, 201539 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

39 Comments

  1. Dave February 16, 2015 at 9:33 AM - Reply

    Nice! I think I’ll do a variation this afternoon with Italian sausage and parmesan. :)

    • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 10:16 AM - Reply

      Nice! I’d probably coarsely grate the Parmesan, since it’s pretty hard. What do you think?!!

      • Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward February 16, 2015 at 10:51 AM

        Or maybe a very young Parmesan? But Parmesan might have too much salt, as the sausage probably well-salted. I guess you could taste it first. :-) Emmental or a young Gouda might work, though if theirs no Gruyere or Comte in sight.

      • Dave February 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        Agreed, that would work, but I like the texture of hard italian cheeses, sometimes cutting off thick slices to eat on its own. So, I decided to cut 2-year Parmigiano Reggiano into tiny pieces, about 1/4 inch “cubes,” so it won’t get lost in the dressing. I’ll assemble the salad and let it sit for some hours, which I think will soften the cheese a bit. I’ll show you how it went in a subsequent post, but I know it won’t be as pretty as yours.

      • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 2:19 PM

        Well, how sweet is that?!! You’ll love it. I love Italian sausage. Actually, I love all sausages…

      • Dave February 17, 2015 at 5:41 AM

        Hi Mimi, here’s the version that I did; less pretty because I tossed it all together, but tasted great nevertheless:
        http://kitchenconvivial.com/2015/02/16/potato-and-italian-sausage-salad/
        :)

  2. Our Growing Paynes February 16, 2015 at 9:51 AM - Reply

    Great ingredients. I love potato salads but not the ones overwhelmed with mayo. This is great because nothing is smothered. :)

    • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 10:17 AM - Reply

      Me neither. If I do make a mayo based potato salad, I cut it with sour cream.

  3. Cecile February 16, 2015 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    I’m In Love with this potato salad!! Polish sausage is very popular ‘in my neck of the woods’ here in Western Massachusetts. I love the idea that this potato salad is served room temperature – hey, it’s winter and ‘room temperature should be perfect ! ; o )

    • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 10:17 AM - Reply

      Warm would be fabulous, too, it’s just that i like the diced cheese in it…

      • Cecile February 16, 2015 at 3:06 PM

        Can’t wait to try it – both ways !!

  4. anotherfoodieblogger February 16, 2015 at 10:46 AM - Reply

    What a beautiful potato salad, Mimi! I like your idea of the cubed cheese that isn’t melted from heat. I could definitely wrap my mouth around this salad. :)

  5. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward February 16, 2015 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    Mimi, you are smart to cool fresh seasonal food. I do love the nutty gruyere, bright parsley and hearty kiebalsa, also. A well-balanced flavor profile and a perfect hearty dish to drive away the winter’s chill. I am thinking some watermelon turnips or other winter root vegetable might go nicely in the dish, too. Beautiful photos. Oh, and you’re right to expect seasonal small plates – I’m surprised- most restaurants these days are seasonal and local.

    • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 11:52 AM - Reply

      well, this was texas

      • Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward February 16, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        Haha. You know I’m a native Texan right?! And UT grad? Hook ’em! ;-) ;-)

      • chef mimi February 16, 2015 at 2:18 PM

        yeah, but it was Fort Worth, Texas…

      • Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward February 16, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        I was born in Dallas so you dodged a bullet by about ten miles, haha. :-)

  6. aranislandgirl February 16, 2015 at 4:23 PM - Reply

    I always have salad at room temp, especially if it contains cheese. This is definitely a full meal, my family would just love it. I will try it thought will likely use kefir in the dressing, because I am a bit of a kefir fanatic and it’s so darned healthy.
    I’m with you on eating in season, but I can’t do without tomatoes, as crappy as they are compared to homegrown, there’s no getting around it in Irish climate.

    • chef mimi February 17, 2015 at 9:16 AM - Reply

      kefir or yogurt would definitely work in a vinaigrette for a creamy dressing, which isn’t necessary, but I like that texture with potato salads.

  7. sue marquis bishop February 16, 2015 at 7:39 PM - Reply

    Mimi, this Looks delicious…simple and easy
    womenlivinglifeafter50.com

  8. apuginthekitchen February 16, 2015 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    Love this potato salad, saw the polish sausage and knew I would love this. I am the same way, very stubborn about seasonal cooking and I will only buy cherry tomatoes in the winter time. Great potato salad.

  9. Abbe Odenwalder February 16, 2015 at 10:21 PM - Reply

    I love potatoes every which way. And of course I love cheese the same way. This dish is love at fist sight!

  10. spiceinthecity February 17, 2015 at 11:45 AM - Reply

    Beautiful!

  11. dianeskitchentable February 17, 2015 at 2:33 PM - Reply

    Looks like a great one Mimi. I agree with you about buying what’s in season & growing up I always remember my mother saying your body knows what to eat if you let it. Her thinking was always root vegetables in the winter, fruits & berries in the summer.
    As for tomatoes in the winter? I’m not sure you can even call those things tomatoes – they surely don’t taste like tomatoes & cost an arm & a leg.

    • chef mimi February 18, 2015 at 6:19 PM - Reply

      It’s definitely our fault in the US to demand out-of-season produce. Otherwise it wouldn’t be supplied to us.

  12. yummychunklet February 17, 2015 at 11:35 PM - Reply

    Ooh, the polish sausage slices sound delicious!

  13. SweetRevelations February 19, 2015 at 6:22 AM - Reply

    Yummy! Making this!!

  14. Kim Bultman February 19, 2015 at 2:15 PM - Reply

    Seasonal ingredients and your creamy vinaigrette will be on our dinner table… thank you!

  15. Peter - The Roaming GastroGnome February 19, 2015 at 6:04 PM - Reply

    That looks really good.

  16. Kiki June 4, 2017 at 3:29 PM - Reply

    Thanks for sending me the link to your salad, Mimi! Funnily I was thinking when I made mine that chorizo would have been a good addition – then it would have been even more similar to yours :-)

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