What exactly does the term “Creole” mean in cooking? The answer is that the dish usually contains celery, bell pepper and onion. Classic Creole (and Cajun too, a rustic country cooking) dishes such as jambalaya, etouffee and gumbo all begin with this “holy trinity”, so called because the combination is so revered in the Creole culinary culture.
Trinity combinations are what give dishes their signature renown and can be found globally. The differing aromatic vegetables plus the herb and spice seasonings are what set each culinary group apart. For instance in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish cuisine the three-ingredient combo is called a “soffritto”. Some trinities are so common and time-honoured that they are treated as a single entity.
In France where cooking was developed into a high art, the trinity “mirepoix” is celery, onion and carrots with a an additional trinity for soups and stews called a “bouquet garni, consisting of parsley, thyme and bay leaf.
In Hispanic cuisine, the trinity is garlic, bell pepper (capsicum) and onion. What makes Hungarian cooking distinctive are the triple ingredients lard, paprika and onion.
This trinity theme is worldwide. In Asia there is garlic, ginger and onion found in some Indian regions, and garlic, shallot and chili peppers in Indonesia.
In Greece, lemon juice, olive oil and oregano is the trinity.
The Creole culture had the local trinity ingredients to call on and the shoulders of different cultures (Europe, Africa, the Caribbean) to build upon. Therefore the “Bouillabaisse” turned into gumbo, and “Paella” developed into jambalaya .
With that in mind, here is a delicious mouthwatering potato salad, perfect for summer days, employing the standard Creole trinity. It is not your mother’s potato salad, unless she is a Creole cook.
Creole potato salad
Ingredients serves 6
8 medium waxy new potatoes
1 red bell paper, chopped fairly small
1 stalk of celery, chopped fairly small
3 green onions (scallions) white part only, chopped finely
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of Creole Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
½ teaspoon hot sauce (Tabasco, or your favourite)
3 green onions (scallions), the green part from above, chopped
1 small handful of fresh parsley (1/4 cup) chopped
Cook the whole potatoes, peeled or not, about 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook; they should be a little firm, not soft. Let the potatoes cool.
Cut the potatoes into ½ inch slices. Put into a big bowl. Add the bell pepper, celery and white onion.
Add the salt and pepper.
While the potatoes are still warm, mix them with the vinaigrette and hot sauce.
Marinate this for 60 minutes or more at room temperature, stirring from time to time.
When ready to serve, toss the potato mixture with the green onions and parsley.
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of brown mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Creole spice mix (Tony Chachere’s or other)
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
¾ cup of olive oil
Mix all but olive oil in a medium sized bowl.
Gradually whisk in the oil.