Don't Like Mayo? We Have The Perfect Greek Potato Salad For You

Anyone who isn't a mayo lover usually gets left out when potato salad hits the table. The classic summer barbecue side is often tossed — and sometimes drenched — in the controversial white condiment. But it doesn't have to be this way. Arguably, you should stop adding mayo to your potato salad altogether.

A classic mayo-free recipe for the dish hails from Greece and is destined to please a crowd, uniting potato-salad-fanatics and mayo-haters alike. Plus, it's often completely vegan. Greek potato salad, aka Patatosalata, is a simple but delicious mix of boiled potatoes, garlic paste, red or white onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Some recipes also opt to add feta, capers, and other fresh herbs like mint, dill, oregano, chives, or scallions.

Relying on lemon juice to contrast the starchiness of the potatoes with a bright burst of acid, the garlic and onion to provide a sharp, sweet bite, and the olive oil to bring it all together, this potato salad thrives by taking advantage of its simple ingredients rather than going all in on an eggy spread.

The history of patatosalata

Patatosalata is a traditional side dish that can also include yogurt or mustard, with the most essential ingredients being potatoes and lemon juice. However, many don't consider potato salad a uniquely Greek food to begin with. After all, potatoes didn't even arrive in Europe until the 16th century, and they weren't grown in Greece until the early 19th century when an Irish explorer, William Bennett Stevenson, introduced them. 

Early versions of potato salad are everywhere and have some mysterious origins, but they are often attributed to early German immigrants to the United States. However, not all of these recipes called for mayo, which was still considered a luxury until the bottled, shelf-stable version of the condiment became a staple in the early mid-20th century (via Slate). Whether Greeks were using the potatoes in salads right off the bat or adopted the dish later is up for debate.

While it's uncertain just how far back the Greeks were eating potato salad, the dish has become a favorite side nonetheless.

How to make Greek potato salad

There's no one definitive recipe for the dish, so variations abound. Besides adding feta or other Greek cheeses like manouri to the mix, other versions include olives, lettuce, or even boiled eggs. However, if you're trying to appeal to the masses here, maybe it's best to keep your patatosalata simple.

The general recipe is quite easy. Just cut your potatoes into bite-size chunks — preferably use a hardy, waxy variety that will hold up when it meets a fork. Boil the potatoes until fork-tender — not a second longer — to make sure they don't turn into mashed potatoes. Next, toss the potatoes with chopped or sliced onions and then add the dressing ingredients, which usually include garlic, oil, lemon juice, and (less frequently) vinegar, and should be mixed separately before adding to the potatoes. Lastly, you can sprinkle the salad with any herbs or garnishes.

If you'd rather buy your Greek potato salad than make it, you might have trouble finding it at most delis. Greek delis and import shops might be your best bet for finding this dish. Just keep in mind that patatosalata is a very different food from Greek salad.