I grew up eating classic Midwestern potato salad, with a healthy glop of mayo and chunks of celery and hard-boiled egg mixed in. It was always on the buffet table at family picnics for summer holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July, and even shows up from time to time at Christmas. (When you have to bring a dish large to feed 75 people, potato salad goes a long way.)
I still love that familiar version, but at home I like something with a little more kick to it. This Georgian version is a creation of my own kitchen rather than an adaptation of a traditional Georgian dish (though it wouldn’t be out of place there).
I prefer to keep the skins on the potatoes for the flavor they add, but you can peel the potatoes after you boil them if you like. Experiment with different combinations of herbs. For the most authentically Georgian flavor, seek out the glossy purple “opal” basil, which is sharper and clovier than the green Genovese basil most commonly found in the US.
This salad can easily be made a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight.
Georgian Potato Salad (Kartopilis Salati)
2 lbs. boiling potatoes, preferably fingerling or red, scrubbed clean
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
½ tsp. kosher salt + another teaspoon for the boiling water
Several grinds of black pepper
Dash of crushed red pepper (I use about ¼ tsp.)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3-4 scallions, finely sliced
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (any mix of cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, dill, tarragon, and/or basil)
Sprinkle of ground sumac to garnish, if desired
1. In a pot, cover the potatoes with an inch or two of cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender all the way through, around 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse several times under cool water to stop the cooking. Chop the potatoes into bite-size chunks and transfer them to a mixing bowl.
2. Add the mayonnaise, ½ tsp. salt, black and red pepper, vinegar, scallions, and herbs. Mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste.
3. You can chill the salad at this point if you are making it in advance or prefer to serve it cold. Otherwise, transfer it to a serving dish and sprinkle ground sumac over the top if desired.