As you drive along the highway from Brisbane into the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland, the rural sprawl gives way to small communities and farmland. Pineapple plantations and cane fields line the road and as you creep closer to Bundaberg, the soil colour changes from brown to rich red.
That fertile volcanic soil means the region is a huge salad bowl, producing fruit and vegetable crops year round. Backpackers flock to the area to pick fruit and extend their Aussie holiday, whilst basking in the warm sunshine and temperate climate.
It all sounds like a tourism bureau promotion and indeed, whilst your wander the region, it feels a little like you’re in a travel brochure. A balmy climate, fresh air, open spaces, friendly locals and historic points of interest. Any drive will take you out past small family farms and bigger producers who have roadside stalls offering excess produce or fruit and vegetables considered too ‘ugly’ to sell to wholesalers.
A Red Marker
The red soil is perfect for potatoes and I could not resist buying a bag of brushed new potatoes for a few dollars. Some were no bigger than a cumquat, others only the size of a golf ball. That red soil is tenacious. After brushing and then scrubbing the potatoes in water, I cooked them in the microwave. After I removed the potatoes from the container, the steam had converted to water and was still faintly pink. I also had to wipe down my benches several times to remove any trace of red. No wonder the buildings throughout the region have a red stain on their lower walls and pathways.
New potatoes are perfect for potato salad as they only need to be halved or quartered after cooking and tossed in a dressing. This salad has some creaminess from the mayonnaise but there is also piquancy from the vinegar and capers. After I photographed this dish, I topped it with some roasted flaked almonds, adding some warm nuttiness and crunch. Highly recommended!
Red Soil Potato Salad
- 20 (approx) x small new potatoes
- 4 x tbsp mayonnaise (whole egg or home made)
- 2 x tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 x tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 x tbsp salted capers,rinsed
- 2 large handfuls parsley
- salt and pepper to season
- Brush and wash the potatoes but leave the skin on.
- I microwave my potatoes but if you want to go the old fashioned route via a pot of boiling water, feel free. If microwaving, run a skewer through each potato twice (cross and length wise), place in a microwave safe container and cook for approx 5 – 7 minutes until the potatoes are firm but cooked through. If cooking on the stove, place a large pot of cold water with potatoes in it on the stove to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and for 12 – 15 minutes or until firm but cooked through. Drain. Set potatoes aside to cool slightly
- Place mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard in a large bowl (that can hold potatoes) and mix together. Roughly chop capers and parsley and add to the bowl.
- Add warm potatoes to the bowl and toss in the dressing.
- Check the taste of the dressing with the potatoes (the best way is to try a piece of potato) and season as required.
- Serve the potato salad warm or at room temperature, garnished with toasted flaked almonds for extra crunch. If you need to chill the salad, remove from fridge 30 minutes before eating to allow it to come to room temperature and allow the flavours to develop.
Serves 8 – 10 as a side