For an impressive make-ahead side dish with minimal effort, turn to this classic Italian potato salad. It’s intensively flavored with a lemony red wine vinaigrette and fresh herbs, and so simple to prepare. Since it’s naturally paleo, vegan, gluten free, and dairy free (no mayo for the win!), it’s sure to please a crowd – even one with picky eaters.
Classics are classics for a reason and today’s recipe is no exception to that rule – in fact, it’s probably the definition of it. Classic Italian potato salad!
This no mayo potato salad recipe is a classic for a reason – it’s packed with intense flavor and is insanely easy to make. The hardest part is making sure you boil the potatoes just right (but don’t worry, we’ll cover that below).
What makes Italian potato salad so delectable? Let’s dish:
- sweet and tender, perfectly boiled new potatoes
- all of the lemon – juice and zest
- peppery, fruity extra virgin olive oil
- pungent red wine vinegar
- bright, earthy parsley and chives
- lots and lots of salt and pepper
- fairy dust – AKA a healthy dose of fresh garlic
Honestly my friends, this is the good stuff.
This recipe only takes 30 or so minutes, and it’s perfectly happy at room temperature. We all know what that translates to – the ultimate healthy side dish recipe for every imaginable party. Woot! And since it’s gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleo, and Whole30 compliant, you should have zero complaints from picky eaters. None. Nada. Zippo. Can we win any harder at this feeding a crowd game? I think not.
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How to Make Italian Potato Salad
No mayo Italian potato salad is an incredibly easy recipe to nail, provided you do a few things right. One, boil the potatoes perfectly – not too hard, not too soft, and keep the skins on for maximum flavor. And two? Let it marinate. An hour should do it right, but give it half a day if you have the time.
How to Boil Potatoes for Italian Potato Salad
The key to perfect potato salad every single time is boiling perfect potatoes. Luckily for all of us, it isn’t rocket science – but it does involve a little food science 😉
I like to use baby new potatoes (or baby yukon golds when I can find them). Both varietals are sweet and tender, and the skin is delicate and packed with tons of flavor.
I cut them into “fat” quarters for the perfect bite. Do so by slicing the potato in half lengthwise, then slicing in half again, but this time widthwise. Perfectly little chubby potato quarters. So cute.
Place the potatoes into a large pot – a 6-quart cooking vessel at minimum, so they have plenty of room to move around and cook evenly. Cover them with cold water, and then bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, cook for an additional 8-ish minutes, just until the potatoes are cooked through. You should be able to pierce a piece of potato (alliteration nation, baby!) with the tip of a knife.
You never want to drop raw potatoes into boiling water, because physics. Yes, that pesky little P-word. Since potatoes are a dense root vegetable, dropping them into hot water will cause them to cook unevenly. The outsides will be done before the insides even have a chance. Or worse, once the insides are done, the outsides will be a soggy mess. Sad, sad potatoes. By starting them in cold water, you ensure they heat up right along with the water, resulting in evenly cooked, perfectly tender potatoes throughout. Get it? Got it? Great.
Next tip – salt the water. Like, liberally. It should taste like the ocean, like pasta water. This will season the potatoes from the inside out for maximum flavor. I add the salt once the water comes to a boil and use at least a tablespoon per 2 pounds of potatoes.
Last tip – after you strain the potatoes from the cooking water, toss them back into the hot pot. The heat will evaporate any residual water that’s clinging on, and perfectly drained and dried taters will absorb the vinaigrette like a boss.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Speaking of vinaigrette…feast your eyes on this cup of awesome-sauce. It’s punchy, peppery, and aromatic with a 1-2 acidic punch from both lemon juice and red wine vinegar. SO GOOD.
Start with lots of minced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice…pour in some red wine vinegar and good quality extra virgin olive oil…and then get your emulsification game going.
Dress and Marinate
It’s home stretch time!
Pour the vinaigrette over the warm potatoes…
…then finish it off with some chopped parsley and chives and hit of black pepper.
Give it a good toss, then take a taste to see if you need some salt – I added just a little. You may not need any depending on your salt preference, but given the name of this blog, well, yeah…I added some salt.
After you’ve herbed and seasoned, let the potato salad marinate at room temperature for at least an hour, and up to three or four if you have the time. The longer it marinates, the better it’ll be. Promise.
Dietary Accommodations and Variations
- Paleo and Whole30 compliant
- Vegan and vegetarian
- Gluten free, dairy free, and nut free
- Free free to use any baby potato – new potatoes, red potatoes, yukon golds, purple potatoes, etc.
- Add in some cooked chopped bacon if you’re feeling carnivorous
More Recipes You’ll Love
If you like this Italian potato salad, I’ve got a few more super simple crowd-pleasing side dish recipes up my sleeve…erm, apron:
- Grilled Zucchini Salad with Corn and White Beans
- Sugar Snap Peas with Bacon
- Crispy Oven Baked Basil Fries
- Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Maple Bourbon
- No Mayo Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
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Classic Italian Potato Salad
No mayo Italian potato salad is an incredibly easy recipe to nail, provided you do a few things right. One, boil the potatoes perfectly - not too hard, not too soft, and keep the skins on for maximum flavor. And two? Let it marinate. An hour should do it right, but give it half a day if you have the time.
- 24 oz baby red new potatoes quartered
- 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon juiced and zested
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper plus more to taste
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp chopped chives
Dice potatoes into "fat" quarters. Slice each potato in half lengthwise, then each half widthwise.
Place potatoes into a large 6-quart pot (they need room to move). Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by about two inches.
Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp kosher salt, then reduce heat to medium-high. Boil until the potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 8-10 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the vinaigrette. Combine the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified.
Drain the potatoes, shake to release as much water as possible, then place the potatoes back into the hot pot. The heat from the pot will help any residual water dissolve.
Pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes. Add the pepper, parsley, and chives, and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt or pepper as needed. Marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour, and up to 4. Serve at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving, or reheat a small portion in the microwave for 30 seconds to remove the chill.
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