The Seasoning Mistake You're Making With Potato Salad

Who doesn't admire the never-ending versatility of the potato? Home fries, gnocchi, twice-baked skins? The potential downfall, though, can be fatal: Nobody likes a flavorless potato. A poorly-seasoned potato can turn your fries into cardboard and your gnocchi into Gorilla Glue. While your friends may initially go for your potato skins at the potluck, the tasteless snack will ultimately be abandoned, left to rot next to the fruit salad another friend brought because he's apparently "on a cleanse" now.

And then there's potato salad: the side dish that runs many risks of its own. Did you choose the right potatoes? Are those undercooked potato chunks poking out of the bowl? And how did the mayonnaise manage to melt? But this simple tip for seasoning your potato salad will change the entire profile of the dish, and when you finally get it right, it's so rewarding (via HuffPost).

It's not rocket science. It's the one magical mineral that holds the power to transform essentially any food. Long before you're slathering mayonnaise everywhere and furiously chopping hard boiled eggs, you need to salt your water.

When salt is a game-changer

Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room. If you're reading this and wondering why your potato recipes so often go awry, you're being too shy with the salt. Salt is your friend. It cuts down acidity and emphasizes flavors that your poor taste buds wouldn't have noticed before. And before you simmer your potatoes, it's crucial to aggressively salt your water.

According to Bon App├ętit, we should keep in mind that potatoes are dense. If you plan to simmer your spuds in hot water, you've got to ensure that the salt will travel through the potato and season it completely. If you timidly toss a cutesy teaspoon of salt into the pot, you're not getting anything done. In her recipe for sour cream and onion potato salad, Molly Baz adds an entire cup of salt to 3 quarts of water.

Does it sound ridiculous? We prefer fearless.

Another rule of thumb: when food is served cold, it requires more seasoning. Once your potatoes have been drained and cooled, they won't taste ridiculously salty (via Cooks Illustrated).

And once you shift to the fun part of building your potato salad with mayonnaise, olive oil, red wine vinegar, or lemon juice, those sources of fat and acidity will balance out the saltiness. The result? Pure balance. Whether you're building that salad with roasted corn, sour cream, dill pickles, or bacon, those seasoned potatoes will keep your dish on the right track (via Country Living).