Wannabe Italian Potato Salad

Mayonnaise or vinaigrette? Neither! This potato salad only uses olive oil—the best you have—to bind the potatoes together. Don’t be tempted to add balsamic vinegar, that’s not what this dish is about. Eat it hot or cold, same day or made ahead. Everybody who I’ve ever served this to has immediately declared it to be their favourite potato salad ever. With thanks to my lovely friend MJ who served it to me many years ago in Montreal. 

Reading the ingredient list, you may find the proportions of oil and garlic here a little extra. Please consider that when dining at your favourite restaurant, you don’t really want to know how they made it taste that good. Or, cut the recipe in half and it suddenly sounds like it contains more reasonable amounts. I honestly never measure my ingredients when I make this. But since this is a recipe, let’s just accept that we are using a heavy hand with a very short ingredient list. Don’t let that put you off trying it. People love it! Promise. I would not lie about potato salad. And don’t skimp on the garlic, or your potatoes will be underwhelming. 


  • 2 lbs new potatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup best quality olive oil
  • 2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with handful of kosher salt. The salt will season the potatoes as they cook. For smaller potatoes, cut them in half. For larger ones, cut them in quarters. Even proportions being the thing for even cooking. Boil them until a fork goes in easily into the middle. 

While the potatoes are cooking, peel and mince your garlic. Wash the basil—honestly, this is the longest and most tedious part—and get rid of any stems. Spin them dry in a salad spinner—you don’t want to add water to the salad. Reserve a handful for decoration and chop the rest roughly. 

When the potatoes are cooked and drained, put them in a large bowl and toss them immediately with a LOT of salt* and garlic. Slosh some olive oil—about half—over the potatoes and stir it in, then add the basil to the still hot potatoes. Stir it in until all wilted, then add the rest of the oil and more salt if desired. It doesn’t matter if the potatoes get a little crumbly or mushy around the edges. You can’t really mess up potatoes. 

Grind fresh pepper on, then top with whole leaves as garnish. Watch them be devoured! And when people ask you for the recipe, you can honestly say you just threw a few ingredients together. 


  • No iodized salt! Kosher or sea salt only. You will easily taste the iodine in this simple dish.
  • This is a decadent but excellent use of your best quality olive oil. I use Single Grove.

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Tea sommelier, love to cook AND bake. Soups are my go-to comfort food and I rely on an excess of garlic in almost everything but dessert. I review Canadian cookbooks for those who want to know which to gift or buy for your own collection.

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