A creamy, garlicky, mayo-free dressing coats perfectly cooked new potatoes, loads of fresh basil and marinated artichoke hearts. Toss it all with some bright, peppery arugula, and we have your new favorite potato salad.
This creamy vegan potato salad is perfect for summer barbecues, picnics, and gatherings. It’s naturally egg and dairy-free, but has the most luscious, velvety dressing. With no complicated ingredients, the dressing blends up effortlessly with some pantry staples.
Tips for Making the Best Potato Salad
Use the right type of potato. In a nutshell, pick a waxy potato. Waxy potatoes hold their shape better, have a smooth texture which is more pleasant when served cold, and have thinner skins.
Starchy potatoes, like Russets, tend to fall apart more easily when they are boiled and don’t have a nice mouth feel in salads. Go with varieties like Red, Yukon Gold, fingerling, or baby potatoes. For this recipe, I went with baby potatoes because they are so good this time of year.
Season the potatoes while they cook. I recently learned an amazing way to do this. Add one cup of kosher salt to the cooking water. Yes, one cup, you read that correctly. When I first read about this method of cooking potatoes for potato salad on Bon Appetit I also thought this was overkill but my curiosity got the best of me and I tried it. I’m not a salt fiend but I loved the results, and you must try it for yourself!
When cooked in heavily salted water, the potatoes are perfectly seasoned all the way through. I chose to rinse mine off when I drained them. I didn’t want the skins to be too salty.
Start with cold water. Place the potatoes, cold water and salt in the cooking pot, then turn the burner to high heat. By starting with cold water, the potatoes slowly heat up which helps with more even cooking.
Use the Best Creamy Dressing
For the record, I have nothing against mayonnaise. There’s so many great vegan options available in stores now, but I wanted to create a dressing which had bolder, fresher flavors for this potato salad.
Soaked raw cashews blend up beautifully into creamy bases for soups, sauces, desserts…and dressings like this one. They have a very mild flavor so they go with everything. Here, we blend them with lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, garlic, capers and some dill pickle brine. If you have an allergy to cashews, check out this Avocado Caesar dressing which is so good on potatoes!
Dill pickle brine is just the liquid in the jar of dill pickles. It’s mostly vinegar but has been infused with dill, and is a really nice addition to homemade dressings. Dill can be overpowering when it’s fresh, but using the dill pickle juice is perfect because the flavor has mellowed.
The dressing could be described a little bit reminiscent of Caesar and ranch dressings. The garlic and capers bring those stronger flavors, while the lemon juice brightens everything up and the olive oil balances things out. You might find yourself putting the dressing on everything.
Making the Salad Ahead of Time
This creamy potato salad can be enjoyed warm, or cold. If you’re not serving it right away, wait to toss the arugula in. It will soften once it’s coated in dressing and sits for a bit.
The potatoes are best tossed with the dressing while they are still warm. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice them in half, place them in a bowl, and toss them with everything except the arugula. From here, you can refrigerate them until you’re ready to serve. The longer they hang out in the dressing, the more flavorful they will be.
The salad is really nice at room temperature, but should be refrigerated if sitting out for more than 2-3 hours.
Creamy Vegan Potato Salad with Basil and Artichokes
- 2 lbs mixed baby potatoes
- 1 cup kosher salt (coarse)
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp capers, drained
- 2 tbsp dill pickle brine (the liquid in a jar of dill pickles)
- 1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- ½ shallot, diced small
- ½ cup marinated artichoke heart quarters/halves
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 cups arugula
For the Potatoes:
- Add the potatoes, 4-5 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer the potatoes and cook for another 12-15 minutes or until fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
For the Dressing:
- Combine the soaked cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, dill pickle brine, capers, and garlic to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for a few minutes until the dressing is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Standard blenders may need a few minutes longer.
To Assemble the Potato Salad:
- Slice the potatoes in half. Place in a large bowl with the artichokes, diced shallots and basil. Toss with the dressing, season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve at room temperature or chill and serve cold. Just before serving, toss with the arugula.