Potato salad is a summertime staple, but this version is a little bit different than what you might be used to. This vegan potato salad has no mayonnaise (vegan or otherwise). Instead, frozen peas combined with the starchy cooking water from the potatoes make a vibrant sauce for baby new potatoes, and a homemade mint pesto adds a bit of fresh herbaceousness.
This salad is best served warm, but you can easily serve it cold as well; just add the pesto at the last minute so that it will stay as green as possible.
If you’re strapped for time, you could always substitute your favorite jarred pesto for the mint pesto in the recipe, but rest assured: pesto is actually a cinch to make. Traditionally, you would use a mortar and pestle to coax all of the flavor out of your ingredients without bruising the herbs, but I find that a Magic Bullet-style blender actually does the job quite well (and to be honest, I’ve relied on my regular old immersion blender to make pesto many times, and I’ve never heard anyone complaining).
The secret is to make your pesto as close to serving as possible and to make sure you don’t over-process it. A pesto shouldn’t be completely smooth; it should be just emulsified enough that you don’t have any large chunks but that you still get some texture with every bite.
While mint is a natural pairing with peas, you could just as easily sub a number of fresh garden herbs, depending on what’s ready to be harvested. Basil always makes a delicious pesto, but parsley, cilantro, and even arugula are fantastic, too. Feel free to play with this recipe to find flavors that suit your palate and will pair well with whatever you’re grilling.
Potato Salad with Pea Purée and Mint Pesto
This vegan pasta salad has the bright flavors of sweet green peas and fresh mint.
- 1 pound baby new potatoes
- 1/2 cup mint
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups frozen green peas
- fleur de sel, to taste
- Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the starchy cooking water.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto. Using either a bullet blender or a mortar and pestle, combine the mint, garlic, lemon zest, pine nuts, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, and process or pound until smooth.
- Place the peas in a large bowl, and pour about 1/4 cup of the water over them. Stir to coat evenly. Add about a tablespoon of the pesto, and then use an immersion blender to blend the peas about halfway.
- Halve the potatoes while they are still hot and add them to the pea purée. Toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to achieve the texture you want.
- Garnish with dollops of the mint pesto, and serve.
The pesto is just as tasty with basil or cilantro.
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