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Simple Sides: Potato Salads, Hold the Mayo!

By Dennis Linden can go far in this world armed with a good pesto and a tasty guacamole recipe!
Image of school mascot with kids
This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with two uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe options. The dishes will be centered around seasonal fresh produce item and easy enough to prepare so that a child of any age can help in contributing to the family meal. While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their confidence in the kitchen grows. 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.

The competing schedules of today’s 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 even be great fun. 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 children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.

There’s no doubt that mayo is brimming with fat. One cup contains 1440 calories, 160 grams fat, and 24 grams saturated fat. Sure, one can substitute “light” or non-fat versions but those knock-offs also cut down on the flavor of this delicious and fatty food. In fact, mayonnaise definitely is a good example of that old truism if it tastes good, it must be bad for you. Unfortunately, mayo is a basic ingredient in an American summertime tradition, the Potato Salad.
Image of potatoes
Here are two potato salads that your kids can help prepare using not only delicious substitutes for mayonnaise, but dressings that will serve them well as adults. After all, one can go far in this world armed with a good pesto and a tasty guacamole recipe! Seriously, try preparing these two mayo-less recipes with your young sous chefs for your next summer picnic event or backyard BBQ and shed empty calories together as a family!

Recipe I: Lesson Plan for Creamy Avocado Potato Salad
For both of these recipes, steam and cool the potatoes before the kids take part in the preparation. Once cooked, the dullest of knives can slice the small, cooked-to-creamy potatoes in half, making this a job that a kid of any age can be assigned – with supervision, of course. It would also be a good idea to slice in half and pit the avocadoes; let your kitchen helpers do the scooping. Most of this recipe takes place in the food processor, so the chopping of the tomato and onion do need a sharp knife but no precision. Only the adult in the room can judge if a child can handle this knife worth. Measuring out the other ingredients, putting all in the processor and then combining this creamy mixture with the potatoes in a job for a child of almost any age. The family will share the guilt-free enjoyment of a mayo-less potato salad and your young sous chefs will add a tasty formula to their culinary toolkits!

Recipe I: Lesson Plan for Pesto Potato Salad
In a perfect world, education would teach reading, writing, arithmetic…and a good pesto recipe! This one is extremely simple. Again, like the other recipe, steam and cool the potatoes for your kitchen helpers. Most of the recipe also takes place in a food processor with no knife work at all needed for the pesto itself. The mini peppers add color and a sweet zip to this dish. Plus, the next time the family has spaghetti on the dinner menu, you will be able to let your now knowledgeable kitchen crew contribute the pesto sauce! It’s a recipe that keeps on giving, so enjoy!

Recipe I Creamy Avocado Potato Salad
Serves 6

2 pounds small Gemstone® or Baby Dutch Yellow® potatoes, cut in half
2 Avocados
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
½ teaspoon Salt
1 Roma Tomato, rough chopped
1 small Red Onion, rough chopped
2 Green Onions, chopped
Ground Black Pepper to taste

What kids can do:
  1. Measure out and prepare all ingredients before starting recipe.
  2. Slice potatoes in half and place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Scoop out avocados into a food processor.
  4. Add the lime juice and salt, then purée until creamy smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  5. Add the tomato and red onion.
  6. Pulse into small pieces, but not completely puréed.
  7. Add the avocado mixture to the bowl of potatoes.
  8. Add pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.
  9. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  10. Just before serving, chop and top with green onions.
What the supervising adult should do:
  1. Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cover pot, bring water to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool. Split the avocado in half, remove the seed. Oversee the little bit of knife work necessary as well as the seasoning with pepper.
Image of Pesto Potato Salad
Recipe II
Pesto Potato Salad
Serves 6


For the Salad
1½ pounds Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, cooked, cooled and quartered
2 cups Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers
½ cup Basil Pesto
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Basil Pesto
½ cup Pine Nuts
2 cloves Garlic
3 cups Fresh Basil leaves, stems removed, loosely packed
½ cup Grated Parmesan
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3 ounces Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

What kids can do:
  1. Measure out and prepare all ingredients before starting recipe.
  2. Quarter the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Slice peppers in half lengthwise.
  4. Under cold running water, remove seeds and membrane by hand.
  5. Rough chop peppers.
  6. Make pesto: In a food processor, process the pine nuts and the garlic until minced.
  7. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, then process until finely minced.
  8. With processor on, slowly pour the oil down the food chute.
  9. Process until well blended.
  10. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  11. Add the chopped peppers and pesto to the bowl of potatoes and toss gently to combine.
  12. Under supervision, season with salt and pepper, chill before serving.
What the supervising adults should do:
  1. Put the potatoes in a large steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 20 minutes, or until they are cooked though. Set them aside until they are cool enough for the kids to handle. Supervise the slicing of the potatoes in quarters and the peppers in half. If your helper is too young for knife work, do the slicing and then let your child hand clean the pepper seeds under a running facet. A good time for a lesson in proper food processor safe handling and clean-up!
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