Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

Potato salad made from small red potatoes, and a basil pesto with parsley, dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes and dressed with mayonnaise and Parmesan.

Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

If you're not into green food, you might want to click away. I totally get it - sometimes green in a food is a bit off-putting to me too, especially when nature didn't intend it to be green - like all those dyed foods on Saint Patrick's Day. And then there's The Cajun's aversion to anything slightly resembling a vegetable, so I pretty much would have to say that an herb centered ingredient like basil potato salad, would literally send him running.

Basil is prolific in the garden right now though and anybody that ever plants it, usually has an overabundance of it. What does one do but make pesto!  That's pretty straight forward - basil, or even a mixture of herbs, pine nuts (or pecans or walnuts if you prefer), lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, Parmesan, olive oil, and for this one, a bit of dried red pepper flakes.

And, by the way, if you happen to have some pesto leftover, you can freeze it in ice cube trays, or in muffin cups for larger servings, or both. Spray the tray with a bit of olive oil non-stick spray and spoon in the pesto.  Freeze until solid, pop out and put into a zipper freezer bag. For lots of fun ways to use pesto, visit this post.

I have never combined pesto with a full recipe potato salad to be honest, mostly because it means I would be the sole person eating it, but I thought I'd give it a try. I'm trying to break out of the traditional southern style box and try a few new types of potato salads anyway.

After folding the pesto into the potato salad, while I liked it, I found that I really missed the creaminess of a potato salad. I tried a bit of Greek yogurt and then sour cream, but wasn't crazy about the tang that added especially against the strength of the extra virgin olive oil. Then I tried just good ole light mayonnaise and really loved it {I know, surprise, surprise} and so my creamy version of pesto potato salad was born. I didn't have any sun dried tomatoes in the pantry when I decided to pick the basil, but I am certain that they would have been an excellent addition, so I've included them as an option.

Recipe: Creamy Pesto Potato Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 pounds of small red potatoes, unpeeled
For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups of basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes, optional
  • 3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise

Cut the unpeeled potatoes into chunks. Add them to boiling and well salted water and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or just until tender, but still firm, not mushy. Drain and set aside to cool.

For the pesto, rinse herbs and pat dry. Toast nuts in a dry skillet for 4 to 5 minutes until fragrant. Remove and set aside to cool. Add the unpeeled garlic to the pan and toast about 7 minutes, turning over halfway. Remove and set aside to cool. Once cooled, peel.

In a food processor bowl, pulse the basil and parsley, just until broken up, about 3 times. Add the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse about 5 times then process while drizzling in the oil. Add only enough of the oil to make mixture smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl.

Add the Parmesan and the mayonnaise to the pesto and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add the cooled and well drained potatoes and gently toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate several hours before serving.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on June 1, 2012
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