Monday, February 27, 2012

Purple Potato Salad from the Sea

Insalata di Patate e Calamari was a dish discovered years ago. A light potato salad with baby squid and a black olive tapenade spread mixed into the dressing. The flavours were out of this world. It wasn't very pleasing to the eye, however, as the tapenade tinged the potatoes grey. Enter the purple potato. These babies do loose a bit of vibrancy when boiled, but when spritzed with the lemon afterwards, bounce right back to a startling violet hue. Perfect for salads.

I remember reading Rome-blogger Apron and Sneaker's post about her hunt for violet potatoes, and so when I stumbled upon them at a local market, I quickly nabbed a few packages. I new they were prime for salads. The memories of the calamari salad I'd made years ago had left quite the impression. It's the heavy dose of tapenade in the dressing that makes it stand out among potato salads. Zingy lemon and a bright black olive spread tie the potatoes and seafood together just so well.

I've used strictly calamari in the past, but this time went for a calamari-based seafood mix I'd picked up. The seafood is brought to life in a quick aromatic boil of wine and herbs, then cooled to be mixed with the potatoes. Not at all overly fishy for a salad, and would serve well as a light lunch or side to a grilled meaty main.

Next time violet potatoes present themselves, I'm trying Apron and Sneaker's salad with tomatoes, pancetta, and blue cheese. But for now, while biding my time for proper fresh tomatoes, this bright salad from the sea is just what the mid-winter blahs needs.

Continue to Recipe...

Purple Potato & Calamari Salad
{Insalata di Patate e Calamari} 

Adapted from BBC Food
Time 45 mins
Serves 4
Eat with Grüner Veltliner

1 lb.(500g) purple potatoes
4 1/4 cups (1 liter) water
1 Tb white wine
1 stalk and leaves of celery, finely chopped
sprig fresh thyme and rosemary
3 black peppercorns
1 lb. (500g) calamari-based seafood mix (squid, shrimp, mussels, etc..)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 2/3 oz (75g) tapenade (Italian black olive spread) - about 1/3 cup
1 Tb olive oil
parsley/chives/green onion

1) Scrub potatoes and boil whole until tender - 25 mins. Let cool a bit, then peel and chop.

2) While potatoes are boiling, start another pot of water boiling with the wine, celery, thyme, rosemary, and peppercorns. When it's at a boil, add in the seafood mix and cook 2-3 minutes. Drain water out and let cool. 

3) Combine potatoes and seafood in a dish, toss with lemon juice, and gently stir in the black olive tapenade. Add a bit more olive oil (more or less than a Tb depending on the consistency of your tapenade), salt/pepper, and green garnish of choice.

- Jo


  1. What fun, Josie! This recipe sounds easy to make, and super easy to eat up! Yum! I wonder where you found the purple potatoes in Rome. I've never seen them. I can just imagine the crusty old, Roman guys at the market looking a little suspicious a them! :-) Thanks for posting. Have a great day!

    1. Haha! Diletta, you are completely correct in the old Roman men eyeing up my tubers in the check-out line! One of them even asked me what I was planning on doing with them! Thanks for commenting, and have a good one yourself!

  2. I don't see these purple potatoes around very often but they're so distinctive I make a point of buying a bag at every opportunity. Great touch to include calamari in a potato salad, makes it really special.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting! Agree..they are something pretty unique. Glad you like the calamari addition..with the tapenade it really works!

  3. This just reminded me to get myself another batch of violet potatoes. Nice post, thanks!

    1. So you must have found a permanent source then..good for you if ya did!

  4. Your photo perfectly captures the wonderful flavorful combination of this recipe. Great post!

    1. Thanks! It really has such a unique flavour with the tapenade.


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