red potato asparagus salad

New potato and asparagus salad with lemon-dijon dressing

3 May 2013

We’re having a heat wave in northern California, and it’s got me thinking about summer food. This potato salad, which I love warm or cold, is a dish you will want to remember for summertime entertaining. No mayonnaise or dairy involved, it’s a fresher take on potato salad that can endure the heat. And when spring asparagus season is over, it’s also wonderful with summer’s fresh green beans.

I first had this salad with green beans at my sister-in-law’s last summer, and I made a pretty big dent in her giant bowl of it. The original recipe makes a party size, but I scaled it down for a family dinner. Easy enough to double for a crowd.

This is a really simple preparation: asparagus and potatoes cooked in boiling water, tossed with a lemony dressing and a handful of chives. Fast and easy, as summer cooking should be.

Cut your vegetables while the water boils. If your asparagus spears are thick, you might want to cut them on the diagonal. Thinner spears can simply be cut into bite-size segments.

cutting asparagus diagonal

Make sure you use thin-skinned new potatoes. Halve them if small, or quarter them if medium. The main thing is that you want all the pieces to be about the same size.

cut new potatoes

The cooking water should be salty enough that you can taste it. The asparagus only needs 2-3 minutes to cook. You’ll want it crisp and green.

blanched asparagus

While the potatoes cook, make the dressing. Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Also a smashed garlic clove if you have it. The careful cook whisks the mustard and lemon juice first, then adds the olive oil slowly while whisking to keep the emulsion. But I was in a hurry.

lemon mustard dressing

Cut the chives. Chinese chives are flat and sturdy, but regular chives are hollow, delicate and very cute.

cutting chives

Potatoes ready, and we’re almost done. You can see my dressing could be better emulsified, but life goes on.

lemon mustard dressing salad

Add dressing and chives to the bowl and toss.

potato asparagus chives

The lemon-dijon dressing is very flavorful, but you’ll still want to taste and adjust your salt, pepper and cayenne to make sure your salad is well-seasoned. You’ll know it’s enough when you just want to keep eating.

potato asparagus salad

For eating, I like a softer potato, but a firmer potato makes for a better-looking salad. This is fuzzier-looking than it should be. But it tastes pretty awesome either way.

potato asparagus salad plate

New Potato and Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing
This fresh, lemony take on potato salad can hold up to summer heat. A happy pairing of spring’s new potatoes and asparagus that works just as well with summer’s green beans. Adapted from Whole Foods Market.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives


  1. Put a large pot of water on high heat to boil.
  2. Cut asparagus spears into bite-sized (about 2-inch) slices. If stalks are thick, it’s nice to cut on the diagonal.
  3. Cut potatoes into half if small or quarters if medium.
  4. Add enough salt to the pot of water so that you can taste it. Add asparagus and simmer until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Return water to a boil, add potatoes and simmer until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Test often for doneness when the time gets close: a fork should pierce the potato easily without breaking the potato.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic clove, salt and pepper. Drizzle in oil while whisking constantly and then season with cayenne to taste.
  7. Drain potatoes well and add to bowl with asparagus.
  8. Remove garlic clove from dressing and discard. Add dressing and chives to bowl and toss to combine. Taste and add salt, pepper or cayenne to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6.


  • Green beans also work very well as a substitute for asparagus.
  • You can also add a sprinkle of garlic powder/salt to the dressing if you don’t have a fresh clove handy.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Yuen 3 May 2013 at 2:46 pm

YUM! Can’t wait to try it!


KathieB 3 May 2013 at 4:35 pm

This looks sensational! I also like the low-fat aspect. Will be trying soon…


mm 4 May 2013 at 10:50 am

Asparagus season is almost upon us here in the UK, so thanks for this lovely recipe, it looks delicious!


mm 10 May 2013 at 1:51 am

I made this last night with the new season asparagus, new potatoes, dill and some chopped scallions. It was delicious with your lemony dressing!


cg 13 May 2013 at 3:54 am

yay, thanks! dill and scallions sounds like a great variation.


Barbara @ Barbara Bakes 14 May 2013 at 10:42 am

What a great alternative to heavy mayonnaise potato salads.


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