Potato Salad with Fennel, Lemon, and Dill

This square meal is a game-changer!  When I first developed my potato salad formula, I knew it was good, but it wasn’t until I whipped up today’s version that I really fell in love.  Something about the combination of raw fennel, lemon, and dill just says summer.

That taste/feeling of summer is fresh, with bright, light flavors.  In a dish like potato salad that is dense and creamy, this balance is so important, especially when you’re lugging a heavy bowl of the stuff to a hot backyard barbecue.  In addition, if you’ve tried making my potato salad before, you know that unlike its mayo-based distant relatives, mine won’t get all funky after sitting in an outdoor buffet for a couple hours.  Woo!

What’s more, when it comes to my food, the approval of my family and friends means a lot.  I don’t need it per se, but it certainly reaffirms why I take the time try new recipes and write about what I’m eating:  I really have an opportunity to educate others about healthy eating…and share with the world that despite what you may have heard, vegan food is ABSOLUTELY delicious and satisfying.

I write all of this because my brother-in-law, who may as well have started fan club for mayo lovers, put his stamp of approval on today’s recipe.  This is HUGE!

The star in today’s potato salad is fresh fennel.  I love to eat the bulb—the most commonly consumed part of fennel—in a number of ways, but this recipe utilizes only the stalks and fronds (you could use the bulb instead/as well).  I keep it simple with thin slices and mix right in.  Fennel—which looks like a standard vegetable but is actually an herb—is loaded with fiber and potassium, but is notable primarily for its digestive benefits.  Fennel can relieve bloating and gas, as well as stimulate appetite and digestion.  I once visited a vegan restaurant where fennel seeds were served after our meal for this very purpose.

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The last item I want to mention is that I don’t use processed, mock mayonnaise products to substitute for the real deal (I also don’t used processed “cheeses” and “meats” either); I find plant-based whole foods that can be transformed without preservatives, chemical additives, or excess salt to satisfy the craving for animal-based counterparts.  This requires more time in the kitchen, but it is often less expensive, and more importantly, I like to know what I’m eating.  🙂

You.  Will.  Love.  This.  Recipe.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: POTATO SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds potatoes –> I’m using russets.
  • 2 cups diced raw vegetables –> I’m using the stalks and fronds of one medium-sized bulb of fennel and approximately ¼ cup of sliced green onion.
  • A double batch of my creamy salad dressing (see below)
  • ¼ cup crunch (raw seeds, nuts, etc.) (optional) –> I’m not using any since the raw fennel is quite crunch itself.

For the dressing (NOTE: Formula already doubled below.):

  • ½ cup seed or nut butter –> I’m using cashew cream (soak raw cashews overnight and blend with just enough water to form a thick cream).
  • 5 tbsps acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, or a combination) –> I’m 1 ½ tbsps of whole grain mustard, plus the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
  • Thinning liquid as needed (ideas:homemade veggie stock, water, or more acid) –> I’m not using any.
  • Up to 4 tbsps raw garlic and/or fresh/dried herbs and/or spices (optional) –> I’m using ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and 1 tsp dried dill.
  • 1-2 tsps sweetener (optional) –> I’m not using any.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using ½ tsp salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Thoroughly wash your potatoes so that you can keep the skin on. Chop into bite size pieces and steam, boil, or roast (I’m roasting). While your potatoes are cooking, make your dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for the flavors to come together.

When your potatoes are done cooking, drain (if necessary) and place in a glass bowl to chill in the fridge, at least to room temperature. While the potatoes are cooling, chop your veggies and crunch element, if using.  After the potatoes have cooled sufficiently, pour your dressing on top and stir gently to combine. Enjoy for several days (if you have any leftovers!).

potato salad

Cashew Cream Potato Salad

I see vegan cooks using cashew cream as a substitute for dairy in both sweet and savory applications all over the place lately, so much so that I knew I just had to try it for myself. After making my first batch of the stuff, I really couldn’t believe how smooth and decadent it was. I immediately thought to the russet potatoes I had sitting on my counter and thought of trying my hand at a creamy potato salad.

Potato salad typically gets its creaminess from mayo, which I find transforms into an unappealingly oily consistency the longer that it sits. Yes, if you’ve ever been to a good old American barbeque or cookout, you know that potato salad tends to sit…for a while. Even if everyone has a healthy helping, there always seems to be tons of it left over.

I’m happy to report that using cashew cream in lieu of mayo will keep your potato salad leftovers fresh and creamy. In addition, cashews are nutritious and versatile. These super nuts contain an abundance of antioxidants, are excellent sources of copper and vitamin K, and can even help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. They can be used in everything from trail mix to brittle to vegan cheesecake (a future blog post) and today, as “mayo.” Just blend raw cashews with water; it’s that simple!

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The other major component of my potato salad is, naturally, the potato. Today, I’m using russets so that I have a blank flavor palate to start with, but you could certainly use a sweet potato, yam, or potato of a different color or texture. Because, in America at least, the russet potato is often used in relatively unhealthy dishes like fries and chips, it has developed a poor reputation. The reality, however, is that the russet is quite the super food.

One large russet contains about a third of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, niacin, magnesium, and phosphorous. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, and the perfect canvas for endless kitchen experiments. Want to maximize the nutritional benefits of your russets? Leave the skin on! Roast it and it becomes crispy, or, in today’s potato salad, hide it almost entirely in our cashew cream.

DSC_2304Since I touted my rendition of creamy potato salad for its ability to hold up at the family picnic, you should know that it tastes even better the second day. 🙂 Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: POTATO SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds potatoes –> I’m using russets.
  • 2 cups diced raw vegetables –> I’m using 2 medium carrots and 2 large ribs of celery.
  • A double batch of my creamy salad dressing (see below)
  • ¼ cup crunch (raw seeds, nuts, etc.) (optional) –> I’m using pecans (and a small amount of pistachios leftover from my nice cream recipe earlier this week).

For the dressing (NOTE: Formula already doubled below.):

  • ½ cup seed or nut butter –> I’m using cashew cream (soak raw cashews overnight and blend with just enough water to form a thick cream).
  • 5 tbsps acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, or a combination) –> I’m using half freshly squeezed lemon juice and half whole grain mustard.
  • Thinning liquid as needed (ideas: homemade veggie stock, water, or more acid) –> I’m not using any.
  • Up to 4 tbsps raw garlic and/or fresh/dried herbs and/or spices (optional) –> I’m using 2 ½ tbsps minced garlic and 1 tbsp dried dill.
  • 1-2 tsps sweetener (optional) –> I’m using 1 tsp agave syrup.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using ¼ tsp salt and no pepper.

Thoroughly wash your potatoes so that you can keep the skin on. Chop into bite size pieces and steam, boil, or roast (I’m boiling). While your potatoes are cooking, make your dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for the flavors to come together.

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When your potatoes are done cooking, drain (if necessary) and place in a glass bowl to chill in the fridge, at least to room temperature. While the potatoes are cooling, chop your veggies and crunch element, if using.  After the potatoes have cooled sufficiently, pour your dressing on top and stir gently to combine. Enjoy for several days (if you have any leftovers!).

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Snack Time: Low-Sodium Pickles

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When our Bountiful Basket yielded pickling cucumbers, I got right online and started to research how to make one of my favorite snacks:  pickles!  Pickles, thankfully, are an easy vegan snack, but they are often loaded with salt and/or sugar.  I’ve pooled my resources to develop a low-sodium, sugar-free pickle formula.

What does a pickling cucumber look like?  There are different varieties, but this one doesn’t look much different than a regular cucumber; it’s just smaller.  In my online research, I found that you can in fact use regular cucumbers to make pickles as well.  Perhaps the process just takes longer?  I’m not sure…

DSC_2118I also found that while many pickle recipes called for distilled white vinegar, there were many that utilized other types of vinegar too.  Thus, I selected apple cider vinegar.  Too much of any acid in the system is not good for the teeth or body, but ACV in particular has some health benefits worth considering.  Among a lengthy list, it can assist in detoxifying the digestive system and even improve your skin and hair.  Not bad!

Finally, below are the ingredients I used to season my pickles.  I prefer a savory pickle over a sweet, so I didn’t use any sugar, but you certainly could.  First, I have dried dill; dill is one of my favorite herbs and it pairs well with acid.  I’m using just a touch of pink Himalayan sea salt and black peppercorns; I like the flavor of both, but not in large quantities.  Finally, one whole clove of garlic and dried minced onions; I put both of these in a lot of savory dishes.  The minced onions have a less abrasive, more concentrated onion flavor than fresh onions, which I sometimes prefer.

DSC_2119Like my jam formula, this one can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to make pickles in large batches.  In a nutshell, pickles can be made either with a lengthy or quick process, which I found one blogger dubbed “refrigerator pickles.”  That’s what I’m making today because I’m too impatient.  🙂  They are ready with minimal flavor in just 24 hours, but get better with time, and can keep for 3-4 months.

FORMULA BASE:  PICKLES

Makes one 12-ounce jar

  • Pickling cucumbers (enough to nearly fill one mason jar when sliced)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup vinegar  –>  I’m using apple cider.
  • 2-3 tsps seasoning of choice (i.e. salt, sweetener, herbs, garlic, etc.) –> I’m using ½ tsp dried minced onions, 1 clove garlic, a few black peppercorns, ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt, and ¼ tsp dried dill.

Slice your cucumbers in disks or long strips.  Place in mason jar, add all ingredients, and shake well to combine.  Store in the fridge for at least 24 hours before snacking.

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