Growing up, it simply wouldn’t have been a holiday meal or family cookout without Grandma’s creamy potato salad. I’m sure I must have eaten a dozen pounds of the stuff over the course of my childhood. Grandma’s yummy, creamy potato salad recipe was a hybrid of sorts—half American style (creamy, with eggs and mayonnaise) and half German style (with vinegar and bacon).
Of course, like so many good cooks, she never measured ingredients or wrote her recipes down. So when she passed away, her daughters and granddaughters were left to create their own versions–and of course, argue about who got it right! (I know one thing for sure, the diced raw onion that showed up somewhere along the way was definitely NOT in grandma’s recipe!)
When I first became vegan, this treasured family favorite was very much on my mind. It was one of those comfort foods that always brought back such fond memories of my Grandmother—I was definitely not ready to give it up.
So instead, I set out to veganize it! I’d eliminated the bacon years earlier, but so much of the flavor—not to mention the texture and yellow color—came from about a half a dozen hard-boiled eggs. (Plus more egg slices arranged on the top of the bowl!)
My vegan version of this recipe uses nutritional yeast to replicate the umami flavor and texture of the egg yolks. (Turmeric boosts the yellow even more.) Smoked paprika stands in for the bacon and gives the dish just the right hint of smoky-goodness. And of course, just like grandma’s recipe, my version has no raw onions!
To test it out, I brought a big bowl to a pot luck. My fellow diners (non-vegans) cautiously took small helpings to start, but soon headed back for seconds and thirds. The verdict: “It’s delicious, and you can’t even tell it’s vegan!” Pretty much the supreme compliment from a bunch of omnivores, in my book.
Grandma, I know you’d have no clue what a vegan is, but I think I nailed it!
Creamy Potato Salad
- 2 1/2 lbs red potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch diced and boiled
- 1 cup celery finely diced, about 3 ribs
- 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (gluten-free if desired)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (plus more for serving)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (plus more for serving if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (for yellow color)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peeled, diced potatoes, and cook until just soft, about 10 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing.
- In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, celery seed, onion powder, smoked paprika, turmeric and sea salt. Whisk until well blended and creamy. Set aside.
- When the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colandar and rinse gently with cold water.
- When the potatoes are cooled, add them to the bowl with the dressing and gently fold the dressing into the potatoes until well coated. Don't over stir, or the potatoes can become mushy.
- Add more sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
- Optional: sprinkle with smoked paprika for serving.