A Two-Salad Supper | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Thirteen

It’s funny how sometimes I can stare into my cupboards and crisper and just have zero motivation or inspiration for dinner, whereas other days everything falls into place with barely any forethought.

I already knew I wanted to use that leftover creamy basil sauce as a salad dressing, so I whipped up a super simple green salad with mixed lettuces from the farmers market, a few sliced tomatoes, and a big scoop of chickpeas. And because I was craving potato salad after picking up a quart of new potatoes (also at the farmers market), I asked Steven if he wouldn’t mind mixing up a tater salad as well. I was craving a super simple mayo-based traditional potato salad, but Steven tried something else: Minimalist Baker’s cashew cream-based potato salad.

I was skeptical, but it’s pretty good! Steven added diced celery and bell peppers for crunch, so it’s a pretty veggie-packed dish. I do question the use of raw garlic in the dressing — raw garlic always has the potential to be overpowering! Steven used three small cloves, and it was juuust on the verge of being too much. Plus I bit the side of my mouth while eating, and then of course kept biting it, and the sharp garlic did not help.

This is compelling stuff, right? The goings-on of my injured inner cheek? This is what you get with raw, unvarnished, diary-style blogging… real A-plus content. :D You’re welcome.

 

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Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

I live for summer. For a few blissful months, I’m enveloped in the warmth of our personal star, tilting my head to the sky every time I’m outside. It’s the one time of year I don’t have to deal with my perpetual coldness. (Don’t even talk to me about air conditioned buildings!) I love the heat!

I also love typical summer foods: corn on the cob, salads with garden-fresh veggies, grilled everything. And, now that I’m vegan, potato salad. I stand firmly by the belief that vegan potato salads are orders of magnitude better than those gloppy, mayonnaise-y, sad non-vegan versions that are ubiquitous at summer barbecues. This version is an update on the potato salad I made five (!) years ago, and it’s full of crunchy veggies to counter the fork-tender potatoes. Dijon mustard gives this salad a kick, and a touch of vegan mayo adds just enough creaminess to keep everything together. I love this potato salad, and I hope you will, too!

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad
Serves 3-4 as a side dish

1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, skin still on, chopped into bite-size pieces (about 3/4″)
1/2 small red onion, diced finely
3 stalks celery, diced finely
A handful green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, separated
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoon vegan mayo
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
A few dashes freshly ground black pepper

Put a medium-sized pot of water on high heat while you prepare the potatoes and other veggies. Just before the water boils, add the potatoes to the pot and boil for 7-10 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove from heat and strain in a colander. Rinse briefly with cold water and let sit while you finish chopping the veggies.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and one tablespoon of the Dijon mustard. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and slowly pour the vinegar-Dijon mixture over the potatoes, stirring to distribute it evenly. Let the potatoes sit while you mix the mayo, agave nectar, salt, black pepper, and remaining tablespoon of mustard in the small bowl. Add the chopped onion, celery, and green beans to the potatoes, and then pour the mayo mixture over everything. Stir to coat evenly.

Refrigerate the potato salad until cold. If you’re serving it the next day, you might want to add an additional tablespoon of Dijon — the flavors lose intensity over time.

Better-Than-Your-Average Potato Salad

Enjoy outdoors on a sunny day! Be sure to double (or even triple) the recipe if you’re serving to a large crowd.

Better When Vegan: Tater Salad

As an omni – or even a straight-up vegetarian – potato salad was never high on my list of Things That Are Good. When I think “potato salad,” I imagine a bowl of sad-looking potatoes buried under mounds of gloopy, inexplicably yellow mayonnaise and squishy bits of egg. Inevitably, my mind places said salad on a picnic table piled high with at least two other varieties of disgustingly warm potato salad, all store-bought, because apparently that’s the extent to which some people are willing to contribute to a backyard barbecue. Aaanyway, the bottom line is that potato salad is not something I’ve ever had a burning desire to eat.

Until recently, that is.

Yeah, it’s weird, but a week or so ago, a truly bizarre potato salad craving punched me right in the gut and said, “Conquer your fears of the mayonnaise mess! You can do better than that!” And I listened.

It probably had something to do with the jar of Vegenaise I’d purchased at Whole Foods a few days before the craving came to call. Unsurprisingly, I’d never cared much for “real” mayo, so I’ve never purchased vegan mayo. But it was on sale, and I knew I’d seen it used in some recipes I wanted to try, so I decided to give it a shot.

With Vegenaise in the fridge and a bunch of red potatoes getting a little soft while sitting patiently in the cupboard, I knew I was well on my way towards conquering my tater salad aversion. But then I realized that I had no idea what the heck else went into a potato salad. Dill? Yeah, okay. But beyond that? No clue, dude. So I did my research on VegWeb, got some ideas, purchased a couple of items at the grocery store, and set out to make my own salad, unsure if I’d be able to eat it without imagining the unsavory salads of yore. When the potatoes were boiled and the ingredients were all mixed up, I gazed at the mixture with apprehension, unsure what monster I’d created. Sure, it looked a lot prettier than the nausea-inducing Platonic [not so]ideal of potato salad that I had in my mind, but would it taste better?

Tater salad, precious!

I cautiously speared a bite-size tater chunk and gingerly took a small bite. In a second, all my tater hateration disappeared. This shiz is g to-the-double-o d!  Holy crap! It’s amazing how actually being able to taste flavors beyond just mayonnaise makes this like 1000x times better. Good gracious.

My salad contained red potatoes, a small amount of Vegenaise (1/4 cup?), diced celery, diced red onion, a splash of apple cider vinegar (gag), lots of Dijon mustard (yum), and a goodly amount of dried dill weed. I got about 5 or 6 servings out of the batch, which was pretty sweet. Beyond an accidental overabundance of red onion, the flavors were pretty darn perfect. I was amazed at how, somehow, the flavors screamed POTATO SALAD!!! to me, even though I can’t really remember eating a potato salad that 1.) tasted like this, or 2.) was actually good.* The lesson here? Some things are just Better When Vegan. :)

*I’m pretty sure that, at one point or another, my mom – who’s no fan of mayo – has made a potato salad that wasn’t disgusting, so I may have exaggerated here. Artistic license? Sorry, Mom (not that you’re reading)!