I confess to never making them at home because, well, I fear that they wouldn't even make it to the table. But I recently discovered how to get my fix in a healthier way. It's a brilliant idea, really, from the team behind the vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters in Melbourne, Australia.
They're Mo Wyse, a U.S. expat who is the business mind behind the restaurant, and Shannon Martinez, the cook. Martinez isn't vegan, and the pair says that is the secret to her ability to make vegan food that appeals to everyone. "Thanks to Shannon's ingenuity and direct contact," Wyse writes in the book, "she's convinced some serious meat eaters that her creations aren't missing anything, least of all the meat."
I haven't been to Melbourne (yet), so I can't speak firsthand to whether the restaurant succeeds in that regard. But based on one recipe I've tried in their book, they do seem to be onto something. Martinez has Spanish roots on her father's side, and the Spanish Potato Salad With Chickpeas is enrobed in a dressing with the same smoky punch as the bravas sauce I can't get enough of at, say, Jaleo. By using it on boiled, not fried potatoes, and adding sliced tomato, onion and chickpeas, Martinez manages to lighten up the dish while keeping the variety of textures that is part of its appeal.
The dressing recipe calls for a few tablespoons of ajvar, a Serbian red pepper relish that's not so easy to find in the Washington area. Rather than make some myself, I subbed in simple jarred roasted red peppers. There are so many other flavor boosters in the dressing — sherry vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika and more — that it turned out beautifully.
The recipe makes a lot of dressing — up to ½ cup more than you might want or need. But you won't be surprised to read that I don't think that's a problem. Save it for another potato another day, and you'll be happy.
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MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; bring it to room temperature before making the salad.
Adapted from "Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens To Be Vegan)," by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse (Hardie Grant, 2017).
2 pounds fingerling or new potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons (about ¼ cup)
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
One 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup jarred roasted red pepper, drained
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
½ large tomato, seeds removed
1 large clove garlic
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad: Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the potatoes can be just pierced through with a knife, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and cut into thick slices, then transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: Blend the roasted peppers, sherry vinegar, the ½ tomato, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes (to taste), cumin, turmeric, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a blender. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until an emulsified dressing forms. The yield is 1¾ cups.
To assemble, add the onion, tomatoes, chickpeas and parsley to the potatoes. Pour about 1¼ cups of the dressing over the salad, then gently lift and toss to coat. The potatoes will soak up some of the dressing as the salad sits; add the remaining ½ cup if you'd like. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
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