This week’s Tapas Tuesday post features a popular Spanish salad known as Ensaladilla. A little research reveals there are as many variations for this salad in Europe as there are in the US. In Spain ensaladilla is a popular tapa. I like to think of it as an accessorized potato salad. Ensaladilla can be eaten as a main course, as a side, or spread on bread for a sandwich. It’s often served with tuna mixed in and garnished with a pleasing design. The garnish can be as simple or as fancy as you like.
Ensaladilla fits perfectly into the flexitarian style of eating. If you want more animal protein you can easily add more tuna, hard boiled egg or even diced ham or chicken (a great use of leftovers, by the way). If you prefer a less carnivorous preparation, you could increase the amount and type of vegetables and use a vegan mayonnaise.
When making ensaladilla you’ll save yourself some effort by using a pack of frozen mixed vegetables. You can purchase mixed vegetables in cans as well, just avoid the kind that include potatoes. It throws the texture off to have two kinds of potatoes in the ensaladilla. The typical Spanish preparation doesn’t use onions, but it’s common to use a garlicky aioli in place of some or all of the mayonnaise. (There’s no judging in Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen; make your ensaladilla to suit you and your family).
This is one of those recipes that is tricky to give exact measurements. One potato per person is plenty for a side dish; add a couple more potatoes for a main dish. Make adjustments if you decide to add tuna or hard boiled eggs. When making the dressing adjust the amount as needed so as not to drown your veggies with it. If you’ve made potato salad before, you’re probably familiar with estimating the amount of dressing needed.
Ingredients for 6 – 8 servings
- 8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 lb frozen mixed vegetables more or less
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise, more or less
- 1 tablespoon mustard, more or less (use french style or yellow as you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- smoky paprika to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed (not traditional, but my family likes it)
- tuna and/or chopped hard boiled egg (optional)
- red pepper, hard boiled egg, olives, asparagus, gherkins, green beans, carrots, etc for garnish (optional)
- Put the potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them and enough water to cover them by an inch or so. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender, about 20 minutes. They are ready when they are easily broken with a fork; start testing at 10 minutes because over cooked potatoes will fall apart when you mix them with the dressing and you’ll end up with mashed potato salad (which is tasty, but not what we’re trying to make).
- Add up to half a pound of mixed vegetables to the potatoes about 10 minutes after the water starts boiling. If using canned veg, omit this step and added them to the potatoes after they’ve been drained.
- When the potatoes and vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction, drain them well and place them into a large mixing bowl. Add tuna and chopped hard boiled eggs if you like.
- Mix the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Adjust the amounts if necessary. Gently fold into the potatoes and veggies.
- To serve, pile the ensaladilla onto your serving platter and smooth it into a pleasing shape. Garnish with strips of red pepper or asparagus and slices of hard boiled eggs or sliced green olives.
For tapas, serve with fresh sliced bread, some olives and maybe some jamón or chorizo.
Ensaladilla is an easy dish to make for a crowd. If you’re feeling creative, you can find many images on the web for decorating ideas. How about making it for your next potluck?