Sicilian Potato Salad Puts A Zesty Spin On The Classic Dish

No matter where you come from, there's a good chance you've dug into a bowl of potato salad before. There's a French variety made with champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard. Korean potato salad, also known as gamja saelleodeu, is a staple side-dish at Korean barbecues. In Germany, there are three different versions of regional potato salad: Schwäbisch, Bavarian, and Northern. Of course, potato salad is an American favorite, too. Earlier this year, it was voted the most popular picnic food in the U.S.

Now, we want to talk about another version of potato salad that perhaps you haven't heard of yet. Introducing: Sicilian potato salad. It's no secret that Sicily is a global gastronomic hub. Palermo, in Sicily, Italy, was ranked in the top five best cities for street food in the world by Forbes and it isn't uncommon for Sicilians to eat ice cream for breakfast. A sorbet-like sweet called "Granita" served on brioche is a popular morning meal during hot summer months (per FactCity). Clearly, Sicilians know a thing or two about enjoying good food. 

But let's talk about their potato salad.

Boiled string beans and white wine vinegar spice it up

According to Sicilian culinary platform Nasuki's Pantry, Sicilian potato salad's proper name is "Insalata Vastasa," which translates to "uncouth salad." While the jury is still out on how "uncouth" the dish is, it's certainly a popular one. It's so popular, in fact, that from the end of spring and throughout the summer, nearly all Sicilian fruit stores keep boiled potatoes and string beans (a key ingredient in Sicilian potato salad) in stock, says Sicilian Cooking Plus

Celebrity chef and Emmy award-winning television personality Giada De Laurentiis agrees. De Laurentiis' family hails from Naples, where De Laurentiis' great grandparents used to operate a pasta factory, Italian restaurant, and grocery store. "This Sicilian dish is meant to be enjoyed in summer when the days are warm but the nights are cool enough to boil some potatoes and green beans," De Laurentiis says via her website Giadzy. So, what makes the dish such a fan favorite?

Sicilian potato salad starts with a potato base (typically Yukon golds), like the classic recipe, but incorporates traditional Italian ingredients and flavors, as well. According to Italian food purveyor Cento, high-quality olive oil, black olives, fresh cherry tomatoes, capers, red onion, oregano, and tangy white wine vinegar all have a place in Sicilian potato salad. De Laurentiis says string beans and lemon zest are also transformative elements to the dish, and Nasuki's Pantry recommends using that vinegar sparingly, or opting for a sweeter variety.