Sunday, June 23, 2013

Aardappelsla -- Dutch Potato Salad

Summer is here! In the United States, summer is a time for picnics, parades . . . and potato salad. We Americans tend to think of potato salad as being as American as apple pie. But both dishes have their origins in the recipes of our European forebears. Take apple pie for example  --  in its Dutch incarnation of appelgebak, it is a treat that I enjoyed in Zaandam a few years ago  --  even better, I treated myself to the rich confection known locally as appelgebak met slaagroom  --  apple cake topped with whipped cream.

As for potato salad, I found this simple recipe for aardappelsla in Grandma VandenBergh's 1922 cookbook, Eenvoudige Berekende Recepten, which I translated as "Classic Dutch Potato Salad":

Aardappelsla: Classic Dutch Potato Salad

- 750 grams (1  1/2 pounds) cooked potato
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 hard-cooked egg
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cold cooked potatoes into slices or chunks.
Chop the hard-cooked egg finely and mix it with the mustard, the salt and pepper, the chopped parsley, the oil and vinegar.
In a salad bowl, stir the sauce into the sliced potatoes.
You may wish to prepare the potato salad ahead of time before serving, so that the sauce can be absorbed by the potatoes.
As a variation, you can add a small cucumber, sliced, to the potato mixture.

There is a footnote that states: "To make the dish more nourishing and to partly replace meat, you can increase the number of eggs used. One or two eggs can be used in the sauce, and another can be sliced and used to garnish the salad. On the other hand, you can omit the egg altogether and save 12 cents."

This refers of course to "guilder cents," not "dollar cents." In 1922 Dutch currency, the entire dish could be prepared at a cost of only 34  1/2 guilder cents.

Dutch vocabulary:

aardappel (n.)  =  potato; literally, "earth apple"
azijn (n.)  =  vinegar
ei (n.)  =  egg
gekookte (adj.)  =  cooked
komkommer (n.)  =  cucumber
mosterd (n.)  =  mustard
peper (n.)  =  pepper
peterselie (n.)  =  parsley
slaolie (n.)  =  salad oil; cooking oil
zout (n.)  =  salt

For more about potatoes and their usage in traditional Dutch cuisine, see:

"Potatoes Have Eyes"
Potatoes, Part II


  1. I have tried this recipe out myself several times, and if I would change anything, it would be to switch the amounts of oil and vinegar, i.e., 2 tablespoons vinegar and 3 of oil. But I guess it just depends on how vinegary you like your potato salad!

  2. Instead of the mustard, you could substitute horseradish sauce. That would give the salad an interesting bit of bite.