Cookin with the Kids
Simple Sides: A Berry Good Potato Salad!
By Dennis Linden
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach a child some basic culinary skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
The month of June kicks off the summer grilling season. A meal centered around the backyard barbeque provides a great opportunity for the whole family to take part in preparing the supporting cast of side dishes while the star of the show – be it fish, fowl or meat – sizzles away on the barby. No self-respecting summertime BBQ feast would be complete without a potato salad, which is such an easy dish to prepare with tasks for all ages and culinary skills. To make the prep of this traditional favorite a little more interesting for young kitchen helpers, here’s a whimsical twist on the usual ingredients that adds seasonal fresh berries to the mix as well as a much healthier dressing alternative to this normally mayo-laden dish.
The construction of this salad is perfect for the beginner cook, as it involves several very basic culinary skills. In fact, the only stove work in this recipe involves probably the most basic task of all -- bringing water to a boil to cook both the potatoes and the hardboiled eggs. The potatoes need to be quartered by your oldest helper before cooking, then make even the boiling water a little more entertaining by cooking both the potatoes AND hard-boiling the eggs at the same time in the same pot! Of course, closely supervise your helpers to fork-test and decide when the potatoes are cooked through. Sounds pretty basic and it is – that is, unless you’re the kid doing it for the very first time as we all did! The recipe hasn’t even gotten started yet and your novice chefs have already learned how to boil water, cook an egg and fork-test a potato!
The rest of the potato prep can be assigned according to culinary experience. A child of almost any age can peel (and smash) the hard-boiled eggs as well as measure and mix the dressing ingredients. An older child should be closely supervised in quartering the potatoes, slicing the green onions and mint leaves. Once the potato mixture ingredients have been folded together, it needs to chill for a time in the refrigerator. Patience is also a culinary skill your helpers will have to learn! Actually, this first half of the recipe could be done several hours ahead; then continue with the salad part of the recipe just prior to serving.
This potato salad has a recipe within a recipe! The simple three-ingredient berries-arugula-balsamic salad could be served on its own—right next to the bowl of potatoes chilling in the ‘frig as a matter of fact. The choice of berries could be varied based on seasonal availability or preferences. So your kitchen crew learns a new green salad mix! However, since both halves of this recipe are equally delicious on their own, it stands to reason that combined they would be even better and they are! This dish, with its sweet berries, creamy potatoes and tangy arugula in combination with the rest of this dish’s supporting cast of low calorie dressing flavors could make everyone at the table almost forget what’s on the barby! Enjoy!
Summer Berry Potato Salad
2 lbs. Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow® potatoes
2 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
½ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
⅓ cup fat-free half-and-half
¼ cup low-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 green onions, green parts only, chopped small
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, sliced into ribbons
Sea Salt, to taste
2 cups mixed berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
1 cup firmly packed baby arugula leaves
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
What the supervising adult should do:
Oversee the knife work needed to prepare the potatoes, green onions and mint. Closely supervise the boiling pot of water for the cooking of the potatoes and eggs.
What the kids can do:
Slice each baby potato into quarters, then cook in boiling water until fork tender.
Mash up the hard-boiled eggs with a fork in a large bowl. Then measure out and add in the yogurt, half-and-half, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, onions and mint. Whisk together until creamy. Add the warm potatoes, season with salt, mix again, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Toss together most of the berries and arugula with balsamic vinegar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, retaining a handful berries and greens for use as garnish. Then gently fold this mix into the chilled potato mixer. Serve individually or family style, topped with a more berries and arugula leaves.