Keeping It Chill During the Salad Days of Summer

This summer’s intense heat has been wearing on the body and spirit.

It’s simply too hot to do anything that requires effort, including spending much time in the kitchen. 

Standing by a hot grill? You’ve got to be kidding!

When late summer arrives, chilled salad platters served as a main course or side dish can be a welcome answer to “What’s for dinner?”

One of my favorites is easy confetti potato salad because it’s chilled, light, nutritious, and versatile.

Unlike the potato salad that graces many tables throughout the summer, made primarily from cooked, cubed potatoes, chopped onion, celery, and diced hard-cooked eggs bound together by a heavy mayonnaise-based dressing, my version begins with a bed of crisp salad greens topped with slices of gold or red potatoes still in their skins, cooked just until knife-tender.

From this foundational point, the salad can become whatever one wishes.  

I’ve garnished mine with chopped green and yellow bell pepper, red onion, and hard-cooked eggs sliced in half or quarters. Add slices of ham, chicken, salmon, or tuna for a main dish salad high on protein, or keep it vegetarian with julienned or shredded carrots, juicy ripe tomatoes, cooked and chilled butter beans, or crisp-tender asparagus, brined artichoke hearts, capers, olives – the list is limited only by what’s in your pantry and refrigerator crisper drawer.

The creamy dressing mimics the flavors I love of traditional potato salad but is thin enough for everyone to drizzle the amount they prefer. Designed using common ingredients to eliminate last-minute grocery store trips, it’s whisked together in minutes using mayonnaise, a touch of dry mustard for heat, paprika, coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and milk. 

Prepared Dijon mustard is a fine substitution for dry mustard. The dressing thickens as it chills, so I sometimes stir in an extra teaspoon or two of milk just before serving to achieve the right consistency for drizzling.

Comfortable temperatures will return one of these days, and our thoughts will turn to hearty casseroles, but until then, cool, refreshing salads will help us all stay “chill.”

Easy Confetti Potato Salad


1 ½ pounds small gold or red potatoes, about 8

1 bunch romaine lettuce, rinsed, spun dry, torn

1 bunch spring mix or mesclun, rinsed, spun dry

½ cup diced green bell pepper, rinsed

½ cup diced yellow bell pepper, rinsed

2 tablespoons red onion, peeled and diced

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Paprika, for garnish


Gently scrub new potatoes, but do not remove the skin. Place in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them, cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook potatoes until a sharp knife easily pierces them, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until cold.

Arrange lettuce and spring mix on a large platter or individual salad plates. Slice chilled potatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices and arrange them over the greens, overlapping edges. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the salad with diced green pepper, yellow pepper, and red onion. Slice hard-cooked eggs in half, arrange them on the platter, and season with a bit of salt and paprika. Cover the platter and chill until ready to serve.

Creamy Dressing


6 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup milk

Whisk together mayonnaise, dry mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, to form a thin dressing. Cover and chill until ready to serve. If the dressing is too thick to drizzle, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk.

Yield:  4 to 6 salad servings

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Christy Rost

Public television chef Christy Rost is the author of three cookbooks and a longtime resident of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. For additional recipes and entertaining tips, please visit or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ChristyRost.

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