How to make an original country salad: 13 ideas to succeed in your summer picnics


Salads we eat all year round, but the kingdom of country salad is, without a doubt, the hot months. Not in a glass it is also known as a summer salad, although it admits other names such as peasant salad or simply potato. Because although it admits many ingredients, the tuber is the undisputed main protagonist.

It seems that we are less radical in terms of defending a genuine recipe for this dish and in each house it is made in a somewhat different way, with its tricks. In order not to fall into monotony and give more variety to picnics, barbecues, lunches and summer dinners, we propose many ideas and variants to make an original and different country salad.

In addition to the potato, cooked in water or steamed and peeled, a canonical country salad usually includes green or black olives, onion or spring onion, raw green and / red pepper, and tuna or bonito in oil, as well as a good simple dressing, with the boiled egg optional. Some also add tomato, cucumber or pickles, beets or even prawns or peas.

Nor is it about opening the refrigerator and starting to mix ingredients without rhyme or reason with the potato base, but we can introduce small variations so that we do not always repeat the same recipe and give our old country salad a more original spin.

1. With smoked and salted

As a complement to canned tuna or bonito, or as a substitute for it, we can include some smoked fish to our liking in the salad, even combining several types. Smoked salmon combines wonderfully with potatoes, but also cod, mojama, herring or trout.

We can also marinate the fish previously with good oil and fresh herbs, or give it a spicy point with some spices or minced chilli. And if we want to show off more, we have the option of preparing our own smoked fish, for example with a touch of bourbon.

2. French style

One of the most famous recipes of our French neighbors is the Niçoise salad, whose variants we usually call simply French. It can include many varied ingredients, but you cannot miss the potato, egg, tuna or bonito, anchovies, green beans, olives and tomato.

The vinaigrette also usually incorporates Dijon mustard and it is usual to serve it with a mixture of green leaves or seasonal lettuce. It really is almost like a more complete or somewhat refined version of our country salad; so we can be inspired by the French style to turn it into a truly unique dish that is much more nutritious, while remaining light and healthy.

3. German inspired mayonnaise, sausage and pickles

Germans - Central Europeans in general - love potato salad. It is called Kartfoffelsalat to the most classic version, despite the fact that each region and almost each house is prepared in a somewhat different way. In its simplest version we find a sauce of broth, mustard, vinegar and / or mayonnaise. Sausage and pickles are almost a must.

In itself it is already a German version of the country salad, without the typical ingredients of the Mediterranean garden, but we can make a mix of both traditions incorporating the same dressing or adding mayonnaise - better without egg or pasteurized -, pickles or some chopped German sausages and mixed with the other ingredients. With tuna it would be a curious "sea and mountain" country salad.

4. With yogurt sauce

Anyone who likes a creamy texture in their salad is sure to love the touch of Greek yogurt sauce like the one we used in this simple recipe. Adding to the base the other ingredients of our favorite country salad, we will have a very complete, nutritious and very refreshing single dish. We can skip the coriander and use parsley, dill or chives.

5. Combining different types (and cooking) of potato

A very easy way to give an original spin to the classic country salad is to use different types of potatoes in it. It all depends a bit on our area and the time of year, but if we combine common potatoes with red and / or purple varieties, or even the coveted Canarian potato, we will win in presentation and taste.

You just have to take into account the doneness of each variety and adjust it to suit your needs, cooking each type separately if necessary to give it just the right point. And if we venture, we can play with the doneness, leaving some firmer, or mixing cooked and roasted potatoes.

6. Playing with preserves and semi-preserves

The summer potato salad is a humble and simple dish, but it can be elevated to the luxury category by using good produce. A top quality tuna belly canned will make the difference, and it is not the only limit that we can set to enrich the preparation.

Nothing is easier to give an original and tasty spin to the dish than to resort to other seafood preserves, as an alternative or complement: mussels, cockles, sardines, octopus, razor clams, scallops, mackerel, anchovies, anchovies, clams, salmon, sea urchin ... and we can also add roe.

As we start to open cans and jars, we can turn to canned vegetables; They are of the highest quality and they save us cooking time, making it possible to add vegetables that are out of season. Roasted peppers, asparagus, artichokes, green beans, broad beans ... there are many options.

7. Adding more greens and vegetables (or fruits)

Speaking of vegetables, it is also a good idea to take advantage of the wealth of the seasonal vegetable market, which shines with its own splendor in the warmer months. Raw or cooked, we can add various types of tomatoes, pumpkin, onions or chives, green or white zucchini, purple or striped aubergine, carrot, cucumber, hot or Padrón peppers, etc. Certain fruits like avocado or apple are also good ideas.

It will be more satisfying and fresh, but very light, if we incorporate a base or accompaniment of fresh herbs and raw green leaves. We don't recommend the boring, bland iceberg lettuce, but there are plenty of other more colorful and flavorful options, like oak leaf, endive, or romaine lettuce.

8. Different vinaigrettes with flavored oils

A bad dressing can ruin or kill even the fullest salad with boredom. If we want more flavor, we can season the peeled potato with the usual vinaigrette while it is still hot, and we will also achieve a better texture. We have the keys to making the perfect vinaigrette, but there is always room for innovation.

A vinaigrette of black butter, lime, honey, mustard ... In variety is the taste. Another option is to use different vinegars (cider, rice, Jerez, raspberry ...) or flavor our extra virgin olive oil, with citrus peel, spices, fresh herbs, chilli, etc. Of course, we also have the option of using different oils, both in terms of the olive variety (picual, cornicabra, hojiblanca ...) and other seeds (pumpkin, peanut, almond ...).

9. An Asian touch

Since we have mentioned sesame oil, we link to another idea that lovers of exotic gastronomy will love: traveling to Asia with the salad. You don't have to go crazy with the ingredients, just a special touch to give it an Asian, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Indian or Chinese touch.

In addition to the aforementioned oil, we can incorporate soy sauce, fish sauce or ponzu sauce, sriracha, wasabi, it even makes a dressing with a touch of curry, miso, furikake or shichimi togarashi. When it comes to added ingredients, kimchi, Japanese mayonnaise, salmon roe, tofu, Japanese pickles, edamame or seaweed are ideas with many possibilities.

10. Campera, but very seaworthy: with fresh fish

Tuna in oil is practical because we can have it in the pantry or use a semi-preserved refrigerator, however, we can try a much more marine alternative with fresh fish. Whether cooked or raw -with the proper recommendations to avoid anisakis-, fish and shellfish such as salmon, emperor, seabass, bonito, cod, sardine, mackerel, cuttlefish or prawns combine very well with the potato and other vegetables.

11. Crunchy contrast, nuts and seeds

If flat flavors on a plate are boring and inconspicuous, bland textures are not very interesting either. This is why the Russian salad goes so well with a fried quail egg or crunchy breads, and why our country salad can also benefit from a crunchy contrast.

The raw pepper and onion already provide that tougher and refreshing point in the mouth, but we can enhance it even more. Nuts and seeds run less risk of softening when they rest in the fridge, even better if they are previously toasted, a quick step that we can take advantage of to flavor with spices.

Incorporated into the overall mix or added at the last minute as a topping, there's a whole world of little crunchy ingredients to choose from. Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, sesame, poppy, chia, or flax, even white or black mustard seeds are all good choices.

12. The wonderful world of olives and pickles

Let's forget the olives of dubious quality and look for a product that is really worth occupying a place in our salad. Why not play with the full range of this little Mediterranean gem?

And we don't just mean "green / black", "boneless / boneless"; the olive or olive offers us a multitude of varieties of different flavors, shapes and colors. In specialized stores we will also find them with different dressings, or we can do it at home. There is also the possibility of combining different types or trying original stuffed specialties.

Along with olives, we must not forget their pickled cousins, the great world of "variants" that arouses so many passions among lovers of vinegary flavors. Cucumbers and gherkins, peppers, onions, capers and shells, carrots, aubergines ... You just have to avoid excess.

13. Cheese makes everything better

There are so many different cheeses that we can add to a salad that it would be very difficult to make a few suggestions. Because, really, any variety is perfectly valid, except perhaps the spreads and creamy -although they could be combined with the vinaigrette-. We tend to go for the fresh and soft when we make cold dishes, but a few slices of good aged cheese also works wonders.

Potatoes and cheese also make an exceptional couple, so we can only bet on our favorite. Safe bets? Mozzarella, burrata, a soft emmental, roll or fresh goat, authentic Greek feta, from Burgos, brie without rind, appenzeller or slices of Idiazábal.

It is very easy to renew the offer of summer country salad at home, you just have to get carried away a little by creativity and set the limit where we see fit.

Photos | iStock - Unsplash

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