This herbed potato salad is low-effort and high-impact. Plus, no mayo means you can let it sit out at picnics and barbecues.
American potato salad – the goopy beige mass drenched in mayo in a square plastic tub – is a thing I never really knew. The closest thing we had in Ukraine was salat oliviye – tiny cubes of boiled potato, carrot, egg, and pickles, which too are bound by an alarming amount of mayo.
In fact, I first became cognizant of “potato salad” as an American concept thanks to Ina Garten and her French-style version with herbs and olive oil – no mayo in sight. (Even found the clip!). Since then, this is the only type of potato salad I care to make or eat.
Herbed potato salad is the thing I make every summer with the baby potatoes I bring home from the farmers market. Fragrant fresh herbs replace Hellman’s as the star ingredient and it’s dressed simply in olive oil, mustard, and a squeeze of lemon. I typically use this recipe as a template and swap in whatever I already have in my fridge. Read on for my potato salad formula!
What’s In This Salad
This dish consists of boiled baby potatoes dressed with dill, capers, raw garlic, mustard, EVOO, and lemon juice. Because the potatoes are dressed while they’re still warm, they activate (for lack of a better term) the aroma of the herbs and garlic and become perfumed with them throughout. Capers provide contrast by punctuating the salad with little bits of salty brininess. You can serve these potatoes warm or at room temperature; arguably, they get even tastier as they sit.
How to Make This Herbed Potato Salad
Prep the potatoes: Start by giving them a good rinse. If they look extra grimy, scrub them with a vegetable brush or green scrub pad. Then cut them in half – or however you need to to get them into 1-inch chunks.
Cook the potatoes: Place them in a pot, add 2 teaspoons of salt and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. (Starting the potatoes in cold water versus adding them to already-boiling water helps ensure the insides will cook through before the skins get a chance to split). Cover tightly with a lid and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them since they’ll get waterlogged.
Prep the flavorings: While the potatoes cook, combine the herbs, garlic, capers, mustard, oil, and lemon juice in a very large bowl (you’ll want a roomy place to toss the potatoes in later).
Finish the salad: After I drain the potatoes, I like to return them to the pot and let them sit for a minute so the steam can dry them up a little. While they’re still hot (this is key so all those flavors really soak in), toss the potatoes with the herb mixture.
Ingredients + My Herbed Potato Salad Formula
- Potatoes: Baby potatoes are best because they have a creamy texture and sweet flavor. Larger potatoes work, too – go for Yukon golds or butter potatoes.
- Herbs: For me, there is no greater combo than potatoes + dill. But if I already have parsley, cilantro, or basil on-hand, I use those instead. A bit of scallions or fresh oregano is also a great idea.
- Garlic: A tiny bit of raw garlic is key. I recommend a garlic press here because it transforms garlic into its garlic-iest self (since it releases the essential oils). If you don’t have a press, grate the garlic on a Microplane or finely mince it.
- Something Briny: Capers are my go-to. Chopped olives or half-sour pickles, or even marinated artichokes, also work.
- Good Oil: The flavor of whatever oil you use will really come through, so use something nice, like California Olive Ranch. Or if you bought sunflower oil to make my Ukrainian potatoes, use that!
- Mustard: Dijon is my fave but any mustard (except honey mustard) will do.
- Acid: I always have lemons around but lime juice works, too. You can also sub with any mild vinegar (red/white wine, champagne, rice, or apple cider).
- Lots of Black Pepper: Not negotiable!
- Optional Crunchies: If you want textural contrast, use some radishes, blanched green beans, celery, sugar snap peas, or fennel.
More ways with potatoes…
- Russian Fried Potatoes with Mushrooms and Dill
- Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- The Easiest Broccoli-Potato Soup
- Ukrainian Dill Potatoes
This French-style herbed potato salad without mayo features dill, capers, and garlic. Easy, and perfect for picnics and cookouts!
- 2 pounds baby potatoes *(see note below)
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup chopped dill*
- 2 medium garlic cloves, crushed or grated
- One 3.5-ounce jar capers, drained*
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unrefined sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard*
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice*
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Halve the potatoes or cut them into 1-inch chunks, making sure all the pieces are roughly the same size. Place in a large pot, and add 2 teaspoons salt and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer with the lid ajar until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife, being careful not to overcook them, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup dill, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a jar of capers, 3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
- Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, and let stand for a minute to let them dry a little. Then add to the dill mixture. Toss to coat evenly and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve warm or at room temp.
- Larger potatoes work too – go for Yukon golds or butter potatoes.
- If you already have parsley, cilantro, or basil on-hand, you can use them. A bit of scallions or fresh oregano is also a great idea.
- Sub capers with anything briny, like chopped olives, half-sour pickles, or marinated artichokes.
- You can sub with any mustard except honey mustard.
- You can sub lemon with lime juice or any mild vinegar (red/white wine, champagne, rice, or apple cider).
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
- Calories: 175
- Fat: 7.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 24.9 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 3.1 g
Keywords: french, potato, salad, herbs, dill, vegan