Potato salads can be dangerous. I’m not just talking about Aunt Mabel’s mayo-laden concoction sitting outside at the picnic all day, growing an army of bacteria. No, I mean the less immediately life-threatening danger that typical potato salads present to those of us who love, love, love them but don’t love the added fat they normally are bathed in. Just because a salad—potato or otherwise—is vegan doesn’t mean it’s low in fat; most of them depend on a base of oil or vegan mayonnaise for moistness, flavor, and mouthfeel. It’s easy to take in much more fat than is healthy by doing a supposedly healthy thing and “filling up on salad.”
So, what to do? Instead of relying on fat, I’ve been taking advantage of the summer availability of fresh basil to make a potato salad that’s full of flavor but has zero fat.
The flavor comes from the basil, garlic, and lemon juice, and the substitute for the fat is the potatoes themselves. I make a pesto-like dressing in the food processor with the basil and garlic, but instead of using nuts or olive oil, I use a couple of the cooked red potatoes to give the dressing body and a slight creaminess. Lemon juice adds zing, and a little Shiro miso contributes a savory, umami flavor. And if you’re carb-shy, notice that the green beans lighten the glycemic load while adding fiber. I don’t think you’ll find a lighter potato salad than this!
Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil
- 24 ounces (680 g) small new potatoes
- 8 ounces (240 g) raw green beans
- ¼ cup (10 g) basil leaves, packed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 teaspoons light-colored miso (or salt to taste)
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- additional lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Scrub potatoes well and cut into bite-size pieces. (Halve very small potatoes and quarter larger ones.) Bring a pot of water to a boil, add potatoes, and cook until just tender but not falling apart (10-20 minutes, depending on size of potatoes). When done, drain and rinse briefly with cold water.
- Meanwhile, prepare the green beans. Trim ends and cut beans into bite-sized pieces, 1 to 1 1/2-inches long. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the green beans, and cook until tender but still bright green and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (Or steam in pressure cooker: place in steamer basket over boiling water, seal cooker, and cook for 3 minutes; use quick release to bring pressure down.) Drain water from beans and immediately plunge them into a bath of ice and water to stop cooking.
- To make the dressing, place 2 ounces of the cooked potatoes (60 g) into a small food processor or mini blender. Add basil, lemon juice, garlic, miso, and 1 tablespoon water. Process until creamy, scraping down sides and adding more water if necessary. Drain the green beans and add them to the potatoes in a large serving bowl. Gently fold in the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow flavors to blend.
- Before serving, add the sliced red bell pepper. If you like, you can roast the strips of pepper briefly under a broiler to soften and sweeten their flavor. Taste for seasoning and add additional fresh lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground pepper as needed.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Other salads you might enjoy: