Summer is so close you can smell it on the breeze. Sure, we'll have a few more chilly snaps, but we are chomping at the bit to wear shorts and flip-flops. Might as well break out a tasty potato salad — like this New Potato Salad With Creamy Arugula and Avocado Dressing — just to set the mood.

New potatoes are available year-round from the South, but won't be locally available for a while. In warmer parts of the country, potatoes can be planted in the fall, and harvested in early spring. The true new potato is a baby potato, which has not had time for the sugars inside to turn into starches. That makes the little potato sweeter and moister than it would be if left in the ground to mature. The skin is paper thin, and has not been allowed to cure and become firm, as would be a potato intended for storage.

Arugula is a springy green, and pops up as soon as it's warm and sunny. I consider the nutty, slightly spicy arugula leaf as serving double duty; mild and tender enough to serve as salad, but flavorful enough to use as an herb in different kinds of pesto and other dishes. In this recipe, it will take on the role of an herb, blending into the brilliant green dressing with a peppery note.

For a dressing that's as healthful as it is delicious, look to "nature's mayonnaise" in the avocado. The creamy green fruit has all the richness and flavor that you look for in a spoonful of mayo, with healthy fats and fiber as a bonus. Puréeing the arugula and avocado together with lemon juice creates a plant-based dressing that glows with green goodness.

The tender baby potatoes and creamy dressing call out for a little crunch, and spring's crisp radishes fit the bill. The common red radish is perfectly appropriate here, offering a flash of red skin to pop out of all that green. If available, colorful watermelon radishes, purple daikon radishes and other varieties of radish will add some exotic flair to your salad, as well.

If you want to serve this as a meal, simply add a can of drained and rinsed black beans, for a tasty boost in protein.

Once you try this version of potato salad, you'll want to make it all summer long.

Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of "Big Vegan" and "Plant-Based Meats." Find her at