As the summer sun beckons you to meals on the patio and picnics in the park, serve up fresh seasonal flavors in a salad that features the satisfying tastes and textures of Wisconsin potatoes.

Whether you’re making a casual family meal or something special for guests, the versatility and simply great flavor of healthful Wisconsin potatoes make them a great choice for sensational salads.

An easy but distinctive main-dish salad you’re sure to love is Wisconsin Potato Louie Salad, an updated Crab Louie Salad made with Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes, created by Chef Jimmy Wade, of the popular Heaven City restaurant in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee.

In Chef Wade’s creative interpretation of this salad, classic Crab Louie ingredients – garden-fresh mixed greens, lump crabmeat and hard-cooked egg, all topped with a creamy, tangy sauce – are served atop delectable boiled and thin-sliced Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes.  As a flavorful flourish, the potatoes are drizzled with “Jimmy’s Special Sauce,” a zesty blend of fresh chopped onion, jalapeno and garlic, roasted pine nuts, and earthy ground turmeric.

The Wisconsin Potato Louie Salad is deceptive:  It looks complicated and upscale, but it actually requires only a few simple preparation steps.  Some tips from Chef Wade:   Use fresh and top-quality ingredients, including fresh Wisconsin potatoes and, if possible, fresh crabmeat.  And he offers a secret used by professional chefs: Put a little effort into arranging the salad on individual plates for each diner, so it looks as good as it tastes.

The key ingredients in this salad have special meaning for Chef Wade.  The crab recalls the fresh seafood he savored as a boy in coastal Virginia, and the Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes are a star agricultural product in his adopted state.  “Wisconsin farmers take such great care in what they do, and they’re careful stewards of the land,” said Wade.  “I could tell the minute I put a Wisconsin potato in my mouth.”

Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes, which are available as early as July 1st, have rosy red skin, white flesh and a round or oblong shape.  Their firm and moist texture makes them especially well suited for salads, and they can be prepared by roasting, boiling and steaming.

Popular Red-Skinned Potatoes are just one choice in a wide selection of healthful, great-tasting Wisconsin potato varieties.  Check your local supermarket or farmers’ market for fresh Wisconsin potatoes, and enjoy their earthy goodness in a salad that your family and friends will love.

NOTE:   The recipe for Wisconsin Potato Louie Salad is on the following page and available from the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association in a colorful brochure, “Signature Dishes from Wisconsin Chefs.”  See the brochure online at www.wisconsinpotatoes.com.  For a printed copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:  WPVGA, WI Taste Tour Brochure Request, PO Box 327, Antigo, WI  54409.

* * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * *

Heaven City’s Wisconsin Potato “Louie” Salad
From Executive Chef/Owner Jimmy Wade, Heaven City, Mukwonago, WI
Yield: 4 entrée servings

Ingredients:

Jimmy’s Special Sauce:
4 tsp.               peanut oil
¼ cup              chopped onion
1 clove             garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp.            roasted pine nuts
¼ cup              milk
¼ cup              crumbled farmer’s cheese
1 each              fresh jalapeno or other chili pepper, quartered, seeded
Pinch               salt
Pinch               ground turmeric

Sauce Louie:
½ cup              mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. each    heavy cream, chili sauce, finely chopped sweet red or yellow peppers and                           finely chopped scallions
1 Tbsp.            fresh lemon juice
½ to 1 tsp.       Worcestershire sauce

Salad:
1½  lbs.            Wisconsin red-skinned potatoes (4 to 6 medium potatoes)
As needed       Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
2 cups              cooked lump crabmeat, preferably fresh
1 each              hard-cooked egg, cut into wedges
Garnish            snipped fresh chives

Procedure:

For Jimmy’s Special Sauce:

  1. In small skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tsp. of the peanut oil. Add chopped onion and garlic. Cook until soft and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Transfer to blender container and add remaining ingredients including remaining 2 tsp. peanut oil.
  3. Cover blender tightly, blend until smooth; set aside.

For Sauce Louie:

  1. In small bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended. Cover and refrigerate.

For Salad and Plate Assembly:

  1. Cover Wisconsin potatoes with cold water; bring to a boil. Cook until tender when pierced with tip of a sharp knife, about 25 minutes.
  2. Drain; when cool enough to handle, slice into rounds.
  3. Arrange around the outer rim of 4 salad plates. Arrange lettuce leaves in center; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heap ½ cup of the crab on each plate.
  5. Pour ¼ cup of Sauce Louie over crab and lettuce on each plate.
  6. Drizzle potatoes on each plate with ¼ cup of Jimmy’s Special Sauce.
  7. Garnish with hard-cooked egg slices or wedges and snipped chives