Potato and Poblano Rajas Salad

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Potato and Poblano Rajas Salad

If you are going to try a new potato salad, it has to be this one.

It’s rich. It’s filling. Yet at the same time, it’s light and bright. How can this happen? You may wonder…

Soft tender potatoes are combined with an exuberant poblano chile rajas, or strips, and lightly caramelized red onion mix. It’s not a creamy salad, but one that has an unexpected vinegary kick, laced with olive and sesame oils.

In my kitchen, it’s a well documented fact that poblano chiles love the company of allspice. And it is no secret that potatoes love to be showered with tarragon. Mix it all up, and I want to eat the entire serves-six-people bowl.

Of course, potato salad is as familiar and old-fashioned as apple pie, but you have never tried one like this. It brings the character of Central Mexico, where the combination of papas con (poblano) rajas has a long history at the table. But this may be the first time you see that combination in a salad form.

I dreamed it up while sitting at my desk wondering how I could bring the legendary combination of potatoes and poblano rajas to your table. Maybe it was the seesawing March forecast teasing spring, after the coldest winter in years here in Washington, DC, that put the idea of potato salad in my head…

Perfect, I thought, if it comes out as I am hoping, to bring this substantial salad to your table for Easter, or Passover, or a cookout, or any occasion you may have in mind this spring, where a big bowl of the best-ever potato salad will come in handy. And: I loved it!

Don’t think about this as a potato salad with chile peppers.

No.

poblano chile

We are not using a spicy chile for the heat. We are adding the grand poblano chile, which is more like a stunning vegetable with mild heat than what many people consider all chiles to be.

Not only is the poblano a large, shiny, curvy, dark green beauty – it also has the most extraordinary rich, fruity, spirited flavor.

However, the poblano chile is a bit timid in it’s raw form and calls for a little coaxing, or prep work, before it can bring out its finest flavor, color and texture. Though, not to worry, it’s very easy to master the process of charring, sweating, and peeling the chiles.

fresh poblano, charred or roasted poblano, peeled and sliced poblano strips or "rajas"
From left to right, fresh poblano, charred or roasted poblano, peeled and sliced poblano strips or “rajas.”

Once you prep the poblanos a couple of times, you’ll see it’s no harder than roasting a red bell pepper. And the reward is in the deepened flowery, smoky, mildly spicy flavor of your transformed poblanos.

This salad is versatile, too. I like it warm, but you can eat it any way you prefer or best suits the occasion: warm, room temperature, or cold.

And it’s filling enough to eat as a main course for a quick lunch or as a side dish for a celebration table, for sandwich night, or for a backyard BBQ.

Seriously, give it a try.

Potato and Poblano Rajas Salad

Potato and Poblano Rajas Salad
Print Recipe
6 servings Ensalada de Papitas con Rajas
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds baby red potatoes
  • 3 poblano chiles charred, sweated, peeled and cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups halved and thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
To Prepare
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Drop in the red potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and the tip of a knife goes in without much resistance, but the potatoes are not falling apart. When ready, drain into a colander. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into halves.
  • In a large deep skillet or casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the sesame oil. Stir in the red onion and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring once in a while, until they have completely softened and edges have begun to slightly brown. Incorporate the poblano chile rajas (strips), stir, cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the tarragon, allspice and sesame seeds and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in the white wine vinegar and rice vinegar, stir, cook for another minute and turn off the heat.
  • Place the potatoes in a large bowl, pour the onion, rajas, oil and vinegar mixture on top, and gently toss. Serve warm, at room temperature (how I like them the best) or cold.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds baby red potatoes
  • 3 poblano chiles charred, sweated, peeled and cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups halved and thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
To Prepare
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Drop in the red potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and the tip of a knife goes in without much resistance, but the potatoes are not falling apart. When ready, drain into a colander. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into halves.
  • In a large deep skillet or casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the sesame oil. Stir in the red onion and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring once in a while, until they have completely softened and edges have begun to slightly brown. Incorporate the poblano chile rajas (strips), stir, cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the tarragon, allspice and sesame seeds and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in the white wine vinegar and rice vinegar, stir, cook for another minute and turn off the heat.
  • Place the potatoes in a large bowl, pour the onion, rajas, oil and vinegar mixture on top, and gently toss. Serve warm, at room temperature (how I like them the best) or cold.

45 comments on “Potato and Poblano Rajas Salad

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  1. This recipe looks wonderful. I’m going to make it this weekend for a Labor Day BBQ, but I have a question about the sesame oil. I’m assuming you should use roasted (dark) sesame oil, as the unroasted kind does not have much flavor, but it’s always been my understanding that roasted sesame oil should never be used to sauté, and that it only should be added to dishes as a condiment. Does the cooking mellow the flavor? (2 tablespoons seems like quite a lot.) Thanks!

    1. Hi! I do use it for cooking, roasted, however, I heat it up for a very little time. It does not mellow the flavor at all, and I like its strong presence, try it out!

  2. Do you have a time estimate for boiling the potatoes? I ALWAYS overcook them. I made this recipe today and it was delicious but my potatoes weren’t as pretty as yours.

  3. Pati, God love you. You are an inspiration to this little norteamericana. I now love poblanos and have shed my fear of all things picante. My Lex, who used to live in Austin, is so happy that I have embrace la vida picante. Gracias; siempre gracias. Amy (con un abrazo para Juju, even though I know he’s too old for that stuff now)

  4. I just made this for lunch today for my family and esta muy delicioso! Allspice is new to me but you were so enthusiastic about it on your show I felt confident I would like it too and I absolutely did. Thank you for the great recipes!

  5. I love watching you cook, you make it look so easy. I am not the best cook but will try to make some of your yummy recipes. I really like Mexican food.

  6. Pati,
    I have made this recipe many times, and often take it to pot lucks,where it is always a big hit! I have your cookbook and have made and enjoyed lots of your tasty recipes! I learned about you on Create TV. Thanks for all you wonderful recipes and information!
    Marilyn

  7. Esta comida es muy delicioso! Mi familia y yo preparamos el platillo y yo anade pimienta molida y jamon. El sabor es excelente! Muchos gracias por publicando la receta! 🙂

  8. Oh. My. Yes!!! I just made this for a bbq im having tomorrow and it tastes wonderful! What a great combo:-) i just adore peppers and potatoes. i hope i made enough! Although i did substitute sweet potato, white vinegar and Acv. Thank you for sharing. Instant favotite

  9. Hola Pati , Acabo de hacer este Platillo , Salió Riquísimo Muy buen complemento al Pollo a las brasas para la Cena de esta Tarde

  10. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Must make this dish this weekend. Thank you so much Pati for opening my eyes to trying chiles but especially the poblano! I have to admit I am a bit of a spice wimp but trying to develop a stronger tolerance and I just LOVE the poblano. NEVER would have tried cooking with it without your show and guidance. Thank you!

  11. utterly fantastic! I had leftover boiled organic gold potatoes, so I used them. fyi, I char the pepper under the broiler on foil; then wrap the pepper in the same foil to sweat. GRINGO ALERT! wow, good thing I only used one pepper–SPICY! as pati says, the heat can vary….. was out of rice vin., so I used cider. same with sesame, used veg. oil.

    using tarragon, allspice, and frying the onions–GENIUS. and the colors, so pretty and pastel for spring.

  12. Looks wonderful and I live rajas. Pati, would you ever put a bit of meat in this? I was thinking of a potato salad my mom makes with little pieces of bacon. Might be tasty.

  13. What a wonderful discovery we made today, quite by accident. Living in Scottsdale, AZ, we have come to LOVE Mexican cooking. Exactly what was that item assembled in a tall tapered glass with layers and layers of what looked like corn, peppers, cream, and more. It was wrapped in a napkin and eaten with a long spoon. I WANT IT! And everything else, tambien.

  14. I love cooking with poblanos. I char several on the wood grill outside, sweat them, peel them and then freeze them individually so I have them when I need them; the smoked flavor in them is really wonderful.

  15. This looks amazing! I’m ready for summer. Will try soon. Thanks for sharing this creative take on the basic potato salad.