Potato salads aren’t glitzy or glamorous. They’re not going to win any awards for innovation. So what makes this the best vegan potato salad? It’s all about balance.
The key to making a potato salad that really stands out is getting everything juuust right. It’s the Goldilocks of foodstuffs.
Here are my rules for the perfect vegan potato salad:
Mayo is a must.
There are vinegar-based potato salads out there, and more power to them. I’m happy to have a spoonful. But when I’m thinking of sandy beaches & grill-outs, I want a classic, mayo-based vegan potato salad.
With the advent of products like vegan mayo, making a vegan potato salad isn’t at all tricky. It involves the same steps as the ones you’ve made many times over for picnics and potlucks, but with one simple substitution. (As far as vegan mayonnaise goes, Vegenaise is my favorite.)
But don’t go overboard.
I want just enough mayo that the ingredients are incorporated and combined, but not so much that it’s soupy.
I start by cooking bite-sized pieces of peeled potatoes until they’re just a smidge past al dente. Once you’re able to stab it with a fork or feel the slightest firmness when you bite into it, go a minute longer, and drain. (That said, be careful not to cook the potatoes too long. You don’t want the potato salad to move into mashed potato territory.)
Once the other ingredients have been added and the potato salad is done, the potato pieces should show some semblance of their former selves, but rounded at the edges. A perfect vegan potato salad has lumps and bumps, but creaminess too. (Plus, that extra creaminess in the potatoes means less mayo can be used.)
Add some crunch for interest.
Break up all of that beautiful smoothness by adding a little bit of crunch by way of diced dill pickles & green onions. Dill pickle gives a garlicky, vinegary hit that makes this potato salad pop. Green onions are especially nice because they don’t have the harsh edge of full-sized yellow onions.
Finish it with seasonings.
For seasonings, I go with a splash of dill pickle juice and stone ground mustard for vinegary bite, paprika, and just a pinch of dried dill. (A person could certainly use fresh if they prefer, but I’m never able to finish the remainder of a bunch of dill. A little goes a long way for me. So for the small amount used, dried works just fine.) Finally, I garnish it with a handful of chopped chives for color.
The proof is in the pudding… I mean, potatoes.
In addition to making this potato salad for me and David at home, I’ve had the occasion to serve it to plenty of guests recently – first for our vegan cookout and then again for a tiki party. (More on that in a future post!) At the tiki party, there were about 20 people in attendance, and David and I were the only vegans in the bunch. I had multiple people coming up to rave about the potato salad. So you can feel totally at ease bringing this one to your family reunion at the park or grill-out with the co-workers.
Serve it with everything.
Potato salad goes with all of the summer foods – veggie burgers and chili dogs, picnic sandwiches, seitan BLT’s, grilled tofu, or smoky sweet vegan collard greens. And since potato salad keeps well in the refrigerator, it’s an easy one to keep on hand for a fast side dish.
Who could be sad about potato salad? It’s cozy, comforting, and juuuust right.