My mom is the designated potato-salad-maker in my family. For any bbq, birthday party, or potluck, she’s always asked to bring her signature dish. When my mom makes potato salad, she MAKES potato salad. It’s prepared in 10 lbs quantities, which can serve a fairly large party with guests able to bring home leftovers too. I like potato salad accompanied by homemade chili beans and tamales. My dad favors potato salad in a burrito (he calls himself the official taster and usually takes a few scoops to concoct his signature burrito dish). If my mom doesn’t use the right brand of mayonnaise, my dad sniffs out the difference. But her potato salad never disappoints.
When my mom taught me her recipe, I felt like I was inheriting a great responsibility. Would I be able to recreate her potato salad with the same flair for flavor? In college, I remember calling her for the recipe and with all the required ingredients and copious notes I prepared the salad to her exact specifications. And of course, it was a hit!
I’ve made my mom’s potato salad many times since, but recently I’ve noticed that I’m not able to digest mayo very well anymore. So, I came up with a new way to make my mom’s salad, but mayo-free. Enter the cashew nut, which makes it all possible. You may remember the recipe remix for cashew queso cheese (a few posts ago). After making this dip, I realized that cashews really are quite versatile and I was able to create a cashew dressing recipe that utilizes the same flavor profile as my mom’s potato salad.
The following is an adaptation of my mom’s potato salad recipe. It’s not the 10 lb quantity that she works with, but I would say this recipe can serve between 6-8 people (depending on serving size). She uses different potatoes and adds a few other details that I can’t divulge, as she calls her recipe a “secret recipe.” She’s going to be reading this post too, since she’s subscribed to my blog, so I need to make sure not to reveal all of her secrets, lest she hop on a plane to the east coast and unleash her wrath (actually my mom is the sweetest person ever, so I can’t really imagine her doing that).
This one’s for you mom!
6 medium-sized yellow potatoes
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 radishes, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
4 small Vlasic Kosher dill pickles, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
paprika for garnish
1 cup unsalted cashews (soaked in water for 3 hours)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (cold-pressed)
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp water
juice of one medium lemon
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper
Rinse and boil whole potatoes with skins until fork tender. While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the cashew dressing by doing the following: Rinse and drain soaked cashews and place in food processor (I did mine in my blender, but I think that a food processor may have worked better in this case since it was a small quantity of food and therefore was harder to scoop out all of the dressing from the blender). Add olive oil, vinegar, water, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to cashews and process until smooth. If needed add more water, however, the desired texture that you want is slightly grainy and thick (it will not be the same consistency of mayo but should still be creamy). Refrigerate.
Chop celery, radishes, green onion, and pickles into small cubes. Set aside. When potatoes are done, let them cool and then cut into medium-sized cubes (leave skins on). Salt and pepper your potatoes well (This is a crucial step! If you don’t do this, your salad will be bland. Also, don’t be afraid of the pepper, I think the more the better, but do to your taste). Add chopped veggies to the potatoes and lightly toss. Mix in cashew dressing, stirring lightly so as not to mash the potatoes. At this point, you can add more salt and pepper to taste. If desired, sprinkle paprika as a garnish. Refrigerate leftovers.