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The Mixing Bowl: Creamy potato salad

You can taste the love that perfectly cooked potatoes have for this creamy cottage cheese and yogurt dressing. With the addition of cumin and cilantro, you have the perfect accents.

You could use low fat cottage cheese and yogurt but it weakens the impact. This salad can be served cold or warm.

Particularly the cilantro and cumin make this potato salad taste different from the usual mayonnaise-based version. It is also safer to serve outdoors on a sunny day or bring to a potluck because mayonnaise is made with raw eggs and can easily go bad in warm weather if left to sit too long. But like all potato salads, it goes great with barbecue and at picnics.

The original recipe is from Marian Burros’ “20 Minute Menus.” She consistently has great tasting, original and usable recipes. Although, this one called for fingerling potatoes, which I thought were too dense when I made this recipe the first time. I think red potatoes absorbed the dressing better and are more economical as well.

Regardless, she is the food writer that I respect the most. Given the number of recipes she offers, she has more winners than losers when compared to other food writers—by a long shot, in my opinion. My ragged, stained and torn version of her book “Pure and Simple” is probably my most-used and favorite cookbook when I want to make something different and reliably good.

You need to use a thick yogurt for this recipe. I love the flavor of Pavel’s Plain Original Whole Milk Yogurt, but it is runny. When I use it in a recipe like this I drain it in a strainer with a cheesecloth for an hour or so.

Creamy potato salad

• 6 medium red potatoes, about 1 ½ pounds

• 1 cup plain thick yogurt

• 1 cup cottage cheese

• 1 teaspoon cumin

• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

• ground pepper

• salt

Combine the yogurt, cottage cheese and cumin in a food processor and blend until smooth. Put into a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scrub potatoes but do not peel. Cut into ¾ inch cubes and place in a pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, cover pot and boil until tender for about 10 minutes. Do not overcook; check at about 5 minutes by piercing the squares with a sharp knife. If the knife slides into the flesh, it is done.

Remove from heat and drain. Let cool a bit then gently stir into the yogurt and cheese mixture.

Wash, dry and chop cilantro. Stir into the potato mixture reserving a little bit for garnish. Add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or refrigerated. Makes about four servings.

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