Creamy, tangy, veggie riddled, down-home, Island-style potato salad, kicked up with a marvelous little blast of fresh jalapeno, just to keep Pele the Fire Goddess smiling.


This potato salad recipe is more a guideline than a recipe.  It's very forgiving, and stays deliciously happy with carrots or fresh green beans added, instead of the cukes and celery.  Damn good too with chopped homemade dill pickles.  It's one of those family recipes that gets made again and again, sometimes with 'what's on hand', for potlucks or holidays or BBQ's - it's potato salad brah, it goes with just about everything. 

And as long as we see Papa coming back for seconds or Forest Grump chowing down, with chopsticks of course, on a big heaping helping, I know I've got it right.

This version definitely leans towards Hawaiian style as it includes a bit of pasta, as well as the spuds.  It's just a local kine thing to do.  On the Islands, macaroni salad almost always has a few potatoes in it and vice versa.  You might say, that in Hawaii, there's never too much of a good thing! 

The addition of fresh, very lightly pickled jalapenos adds an almost soft, but discernible fiery undertone.  Yum! 

After all, when you live or spend time on the beguiling Big Island how can you not honour the Volcano every chance you get with something or other that packs a pleasurable utterance of heat, for your tastebuds. 

Which brings me to share an entry I made into my journal when we lived in Kona.

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Dear Journal ~
I've been awed.  Last week we went over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to check out the recent flow activity from Kilauea volcano.  We arrived at one area of the current flow site just in time to head out onto some of the newest land on the planet, with a Park Ranger. 

Much of the ground we walked on was so new it was warm, not warm from the sun above but from the inferno below.  As we followed along on the crusty new black lava and I wondered if any other human being had walked here yet, the Ranger shared some of his vast knowledge of the volcano with us. 

Then we were 'there'!  Not a stone's throw from our toes molten earth twisted and oozed and inched its way towards the sea.  It seemed stubborn, almost reluctant to move away from us, that it would rather stop to play and cavort, knowing well it was creating a spectacle second to none, and wallowing in our attention.  But the call of the sea is far too powerful, cannot go unheeded.  So move it did. That huge rope of red hot lava, tinged with black as it cooled, kept on course, whirling, surging, sweeping towards the Pacific all the while demanding our undivided, eyes-wide-open fascination. 

Then someone spoke.  It was the Ranger.  It was time to go.  Excited chatter erupted within our privileged little group of lucky volcano visitors, and didn't stop until we said our good-byes.  As we pulled away from the park that evening I wondered how many people will I meet in my life that have stood toe to toe with red hot lava. The Big Island......there's no place like it.  I'll never ever forget the day I got up close and personal with Kilauea's flow.  We'd come in search of natural splendour and Pele delivered as only Pele can. 

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1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Maui, Vidalia, or Red onion (suggestive of Pele's fiery power!), thinly sliced into 1/2 circles
2 fresh jalapenos, 1 sliced thin into rings, 1 finely chopped (minced), seeds included
2 pounds new red, or golden fleshed potatoes, halved
3/4 cup dry (uncooked) ditali pasta (or other small-ish pasta)
2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, smooshed finely with a fork
1 cup (scant) crispy celery, thinly sliced
1 cup mini cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, chopped into small chunks
1 - 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl mix together red wine vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.  Add onions and jalapenos.  Marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Drain, reserving pickling juice.

Put potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tablespoons salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn down heat to maintain an easy boil and cook until just tender.  Drain potatoes and rinse well with cold water to stop cooking and to cool those spuds down.  Chop into about 1 inch cubes, and set aside.

Cook ditali in boiling salted water until just al dente.  Drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water. 

Add diced potatoes and cooked ditali to large bowl.  Add the eggs, celery, cucumber chunks and drained onion and jalapenos. Add one cup mayonnaise, mustard, 1/2 of the pickling juice and salt and pepper, to taste, to the bowl.  Mix gently to combine and evenly distribute dressing.  Add more mayo, if mixture is not well covered with dressing.  Taste, adjust seasonings, and add more pickling juice, if desired.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so flavours meet one another and get all friendly.  Serve chilled.

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