Monday, July 23, 2012

Styrian Potato Salad with Cucumbers - Steirischer Kartoffelsalat mit Gurken

Today I am posting a recipe for an Styrian potato salad. Styria (Steiermark) is a state (Bundesland), located in the southeast of Austria.

When I was a child, we used to spend our summer vacations in Austria - I loved the Austrian mountains, the lakes, the castles, the people and the food. Peolple used a lot of local produce in their recipes. They got cheese from the local cheese maker, fruits and veggies from the local farmers and honey from the neighbour. "Local" or "regional" was a way of life then, not a fad. Be that as it may, I remember the glorious food I ate in Austria vividly and nowadays I regularly prepare Austrian and Bavarian dishes for us. My family thinks they are delicious.

The recipe I chose for today´s post is a wonderful recipe and it is perfect for summer. It contains no heavy mayonnaise but, as is typical for Austrian or Bavarian potato salads, the cooked potatoes get coated with a warm dressing containing a homemade beef broth, onions, bacon and some other delicious ingredients.

As far as the Styrian aspect is concerned, I should add the following. Although the salad is wonderful without a “Styrian touch”, it does add another layer of flavor and makes it all the more special, so, just before serving, you can add a few drops of the famous Styrian pumpkin seed oil ("Kürbiskernöl"), toasted pumpkin seeds ("Kürbiskerne") and cress (or omit the cress and add flat leafed parsley).

Pumpkin seed oil is derived from cold-pressing roasted, hulled seeds of the certain varieties of pumpkins, most commonly the Styrian pumpkin. It is a specialty of Styria, a region that encompasses southeast Austria and nearby regions of Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. Cultivation of the Styrian pumpkin began in the late 1600s. Pumpkin seed oil has a rich green color and a nutty flavor and makes an excellent addition to the traditional Styrian salad dressings.

You can pair the potato salad with rustic meatballs ("Fleischpflanzerl"), schnitzel, chicken cutlets or on its own with pretzel ("Bretzel") or a country style loaf of  bread ("Landbrot").

Recipe for Styrian Potato Salad with Cucumbers (Steirischer Kartoffel-Gurken-Salat)
(serves 4)

Ingredients for the Potato Salad

1.5 pounds medium boiling potatoes, scrubbed well
2 Kirby cucumbers (or one English cucumber)
fine sea salt
5 bacon slices (5 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cup finely chopped onions
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6  tbsp white wine vinegar
½ cup beef broth (homemade if possible)
1 tbsp coarse-grained mustard (I used coarse-grained Dijon mustard)
3 tbsp sunflower oil (walnut oil is also wonderful particularly if you are not going to add the pumpkin seed oil “as a finishing touch” later on)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
flat leafed parsley, finely minced (optional)

To add the “Styrian touch” (optional)

Pumpkin seeds ("Kürbiskerne")
Pumpkin seed oil ("Kürbiskernöl")


1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender when pierced with a paring knife, 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes). Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool. Peel and then slice thinly and set aside.
2. Peel cucumber(s), halve and seed with a small spoon. Then slice thinly, transfer to a medium bowl. Mix with two pinches of sea salt so that the salt can draw out the moisture from the cukes.
3. Roast the pumpkin seeds (if using) in a dry non-stick pan until they become fragrant. Set aside.
4. Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped onions to the bacon and cook for three minutes more.
5. To the bacon mix, add the vinegar and the broth, then whisk in the mustard and cook for three minutes on moderately high heat.
6. Then add the sunflower oil to the pan, whisking constantly. You now have a hot dressing.
7. Immediately pour the hot dressing over the cooled and sliced potatoes and mix carefully but well.
8. Drain the cucumber slices and add them to the potato salad. Then add some freshly ground pepper and salt to the salad.
9. Put in the fridge for about two hours. After the two hours adjust seasoning if necessary and add some more pepper and salt to taste..
10. Just before serving, add a few drops of pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin seeds and cress (optional).

Guten Appetit! - Enjoy!


  1. Hi Andrea! I always love German potato dish and this potato salad sounds fantastic! I can never get tired of potato salad or potato dishes in general. :-) I'm keeping this to try it one day.

    1. Thank you Nami - potato salad seems to be a timeless classic all around and a bit of a "twist" to a classic recipe is always interesting!

  2. This looks fantastic, Andrea! I love potatoes in almost any form…I would love this salad!

    1. Kathy, I am sure that you would like this salad - it tastes great and seems to be a perfect summer salad and pairs so well with a lot of other delicious things.

  3. Does this sound delicious. Don't have access to pumkin oil but I do have walnut oil. I'd really like to make this authentic so will try to find a source first. I just have to make this.

    1. Mary, I did some research - you can order pumpkin seed oil at but if you cannot get it there, let me know, I will find another source that sells this oil in the US (by the way, a small bottle is quite sufficient as the oil is extremly aromatic).

    2. Hello Andrea - the styrian drop is a portion of 10 ml pumpkin seed oil - it is enough for one salat and tastes wonderful!

      Let me know if you are interested!