The Ultimate Vegan Potato Salad – with an Easy Oil-Free Mayo
June 4, 2013 § 3 Comments
Warning: rant ahead.
I used to loooooove mayonnaise, especially that Heinz one that would never go off and tasted so great mixed with ketchup and chips on a Monday night with Game of Thrones. I love me some ritual. But I don’t love where the eggs come from, or the company who uses them.
More than sustenance or taste, food is habit, it’s social, it’s memory, it’s integral to everything we do and are. It’s a necessity but decent food is so often a luxury. Food deserts, loss of cultural and historical knowledge, the agro-industrial complex and its concomitant advertising and lobbying – these are not minor factors to overcome in a search for more local, organic, nourishing and (for me) cruelty free food choices. Because it’s not mainstream, because there is so much at stake in the world of food ownership, because what you can buy at the local dairy is probably not going to help you live a long healthy life but will fill a belly, eating well, vegan or not, is becoming less and less attainable.
Food is political. As consumers we make choices every day that are political, whether we’re aware of them or not. Growing your own food, supporting local growers, teaching others to grow their own food, such as the inspirational Hand Over a Hundy organisation are doing here in Aotearoa – this is activism. Not buying brands like Heinz is activism. I still have some of their products in my pantry – and I still find it hard to not switch off when I go shopping.
Bearing all of this in mind (well, only in retrospect, at the time I just wanted to eat some potatoes) here is my vegan version of potato salad, a dish intimately connected with memories of summer beach time and family for me, and also with one of my favourite combos: potatoes and mayo. It’s full of locally grown veg and no animal exploitation. And it packs a nutritional punch with beany protein and alkalising greens. I wanted a vegan sauce that came close enough to mayonnaise without having to make an oil based one that (knowing my skills) would split and also because who needs that much oil anyway? I’d rather use nature’s fat…mmm avocado. The beans mean there is a very faint graininess to it, but you don’t notice it in the salad. And you can use the leftover mayo as a salad dressing – I’m going to massage mine into some kale tomorrow. Who doesn’t like getting intimate with plants?
Also, this salad is VERY flexible – add in what you like (diced tomato/sundried tomato, olives etc), omit what you don’t – really whatever you have on hand is great. Everything goes with potatoes. And no, it’s not technically mayonnaise. But this potato salad tastes better than the one I used to bring to the beach.
The Ultimate Vegan Potato Salad (vegan, gluten free, oil free, nut free, soy free)
3 medium potatoes
1 medium kumara (sweet potato)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red cabbage
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 large gherkins, diced
3 tbsp capers
2 handfuls finely chopped greens (I used watercress, baby spinach and the celery leaves)
1/2 large avocado, chopped into cubes
Handful chopped coriander
Handful seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin)
Ground black pepper
Chop potato and kumara into cubes and boil in water until tender. If you have a steamer you can pop on top, put the carrot and broccoli in this while the potato cooks, otherwise steam separately until tender. Drain potatoes and, once cooled, combine all ingredients except avocado, coriander and seeds in a bowl. Add half or more of the mayo and mix well, but gently. Add avocado and and combine gently. Sprinkle coriander and seeds on top and serve with a healthy grind of black pepper.
Easy Oil-Free Vegan Mayo (vegan, oil free, gluten free if using gluten free vinegar and mustard, nut free, soy free)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large avocado
Salt – up to 1/2 tsp
Apple cider vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have) – up to 1/4 cup
1 tsp maple syrup (or any other sweetener)
2-3 tbsp stoneground mustard (if using a stronger kind, be careful!)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined. Start conservatively with your measurements – a pinch of salt, a few tablespoons of vinegar, a tablespoon of mustard (or less if using a hot one) and gradually add more to taste. I like mine strong, so I used the full amounts.