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Twisting potato salad to new color and appeal

Most people do like potato salad--it's one of the great summer comfort foods. It goes well with either meat or chicken, prepared in the kitchen or grilled, and it can have many different ingredients. But I will admit that I got my socks knocked off last week in Puntarenas when we went to the Soda Manila restaurant.

It was opened recently by one of my husband's in-laws and her husband, who is a Filipino and came to live in Costa Rica years ago. The food is straight Tico--chicken, fish, rice and beans for the most part. That's what we ordered, and I was fine with it until my plate arrived. There, sitting among the dishes that I had expected, was something that had a very unique appearance: shocking pink potato salad.

Eventually I got around to wondering why I hadn't thought of this, but what it is all about is beets! There are chopped cooked beets mixed in with the potatoes, mayonnaise and other ingredients, and that is what gives it the color. How festive!

I generally prepare potato salad with sweet pickle relish, but from now on I am going to minced pickled beets for that color. Imagine a large serving bowl of hot pink potato salad at a summer barbecue in Tucson--what an attention-getter.

The beauty of it is the color, but also the fact that the flavor will not be affected in any major way if you add pickled beets. It will taste about the same as any potato salad that is made with sweet pickle flavor.

All you do is add the pickled beets (minced fine) and you've got a snappy dish. Costa Ricans also like to add chopped hard-cooked eggs to potato salad, but if you go too far in that direction it gets pricey. However, that kind of potato salad can actually serve as a cool one-dish meal on a hot summer night.

TICO POTATO SALAD

From Cafe Margot

Ingredients:

4-6 large organic Yukon Gold or red potatoes, peeled, diced and cooked
8-10 organic green onions, sliced thin (more if you like them)
1 teaspoon celery seeds
3/4 cup drained minced organic pickled beets
Salt to taste
2 large organic hard-cooked eggs, chopped fine (if you wish)
2 cups organic mayonnaise, or less

Place the cooked diced potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the salt and celery seeds over them and add the sliced green onions and chopped eggs.

Add the pickled beets and mix gently. Add more mayo if you need it to moisten, and if you need more color, add juice from the pickled beets.

This could hardly be easier than regular potato salad, and you will get comments, I promise.

For more info: You can visit Soda Manila on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Soda-Manila/1428165807443259. LIKE them while you are there.