This Spicy Potato Salad Recipe is Based on a Trader Joe Shortcut

Deputy Editor Hana Asbrink has 24 hours a day and 379 things to do. In her monthly column, “Shortcut to Dinner,” she uses lassos to show weeknights who’s boss (it’s Hana).

To me, summer means cold soba noodles, even colder slices of watermelon, and all kinds of potato salad. I love them all, from the Asian-style ones I grew up eating (strewn with boiled eggs and crunchy fruits and veggies) to the German-style ones served hot (filled with crispy bacon and lots of vinegar). But how about a version that combines the comfort of a potato salad with the spiciness of a Caesar salad? It’s a new favorite and a cinch to make.


I live a stone’s throw from a Trader Joe’s, so expect to see a lot of their cult favorites in this column. And if you don’t, I will always offer convenient exchanges.

Photography by Isa Zapata, food styling by Spencer Richards, prop styling by Marina Bevilacqua

Trader Joe’s Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce This crushed Calabrian chili paste takes everything it touches from zero to hero. Like any fermented ingredient, time releases a concentrated flavor, with no extra effort on our part. It makes a peppery, tangy, and spicy condiment that works just as well as a side dish or incorporated into salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. If you can’t find Trader Joe’s version (I’ve found his popular products sell out fast), Calabria Tutorialis awesome and can easily be found online. Or pop into your favorite Italian grocery store to see what they have in stock.

Tutto Calabria Crushed Calabrian Pepper

Trader Joe’s Tiny Potatoes: Their kindness demands a teary-eyed emoji. Bonus: No peeling — or chopping, for that matter — required. Their skin is fine and discreet, so a good rinse and exfoliation is enough. Although they make up the bulk of this dish, they are also eager to play second fiddle. Have them back your next roast chicken, or boil or bake them to have them with any number of main courses. For other recipes, you can cut them into pieces for a Spanish tortilla–omelette style, or chop them up quickly and drop them into comforting soups.


For our Caesar base, we’ll gladly accept the help of store-bought mayonnaise. Anchovies and Parmesan cheese add a deeply savory flavor, and fresh lemon juice keeps things shiny. Taste the sauce before tossing your little ones in. Isn’t it good? Just make sure the potatoes are completely drained before dressing (you don’t want to water down the deliciousness). To finish, chopped green onions add a welcome bite, as well as some greenery.

Served still warm, the salad could give you the air of patatas bravas (oh yes). But it’s just as delicious at room temperature and even cold, making it as ideal for a Tuesday dinner as a Sunday picnic as a leftover from that Sunday lunchtime picnic. My husband loves it with a good steak. I like it with a tangle of peppery arugula or a handful of blanched snow peas (add them straight to the pot of water a few minutes before the potatoes are done). A crispy fried egg or a can of tuna in oil would also be wonderful.

The extra

If you’re looking for other uses for this pot of Calabrian chili paste (a little is enough), here are a few: mixed into mayonnaise, Greek yogurt or hummus for an easy spread or dip; tossed into your favorite tomato pasta or stir-fry sauce; snuck on your Friday night pizza with abandon (JK, be careful); added to your favorite grill marinades and dressings; stuffed in softened butter with minced garlic for garlic bread.

Blue bowl of potatoes on a cream surface.
Spicy Caesar Potato Salad

Part Caesar, part patatas bravas, and extremely likeable, thanks to a sassy dressing with a clever shortcut.

See the recipe