pesto-potato-salad-with-green-beans Recipes

pesto potato salad with green beans

If you think my slaw affliction is bad, let me introduce you to my potato salad habit. There’s that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink version, with its pickles and onions and vinegar and mayo and mustard and celery and then hard-boiled eggs, as if there were a risk of potato salad monotony. Then there’s the stepped-up dilled version, where you start by making your own cucumber pickles the night before and then finish it with radishes. It’s heaven in a Central European bowl. Oh, and now there’s this pesto too, just perfect for the mayo-phobic out there and look, it has green beans! It must be healthy.

green beans, trimmed and tailed
chunked yellow potatoes

This recipe comes courtesy of my green tomato and okra-frying friend Ang, who says it’s her go-to favorite. But what captivated me about it was the play on that Ligurian pasta dish called trofie with potatoes, pesto and green beans that several readers notes when I made a riff on it a couple month ago. I played around with it a little, deconstructing the pesto so the toasted pine nuts became a crunchy garnish and finishing it with wide flakes of parmesan. It was delicious and summery and my only regret was not taking any of the leftovers home so I could eat it today for lunch.

basil
potatoes, beans and pile-o-pesto

One year ago: Molly’s Dry Rubbed Ribs [Rumor has it that Molly waited until we left North Carolina to make these — yesterday, to be exact. We are very upset.]
Two years ago: Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
Adapted so wildly from this recipe that they’re no longer on speaking terms

Now, I’m going to have to insist that you make your own pesto. Okay, I can’t insist, but I do highly recommend it. Even the best store-bought stuff lacks the flavor wallop of making your own — they may look green, but turn out to be mostly oil — and with basil inching its way towards Greenmarkets, it’s more delicious than ever to make your own. Brightening the flavor with vinegar and a good helping of salt and pepper keep this from bland-dom (a critique of many pesto potato salads), and the green beans provide the perfect antidote to those carb-phobic types.

Serves 10

4 pounds small Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 pound green beans, cut into one-inch segments
1 to 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches of basil (about one ounce each)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. [Alternately, you can swap this step with one cup of prepared pesto, but seriously, I think you’ll be missing out.]

Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.

Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

151 comments on pesto potato salad with green beans

  1. Faye

    Hmmm, i’m contemplating this, but i’m very averse to pine nuts. Is it possible to made a pesto pine-nut free and still be pesto, I wonder?

  2. Seriously, potatoes + green beans = heaven on earth. I think I’d have to put the green beans in raw, though, because I had to eat canned green beans when I was little and now I have an aversion to eating them cooked. I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only one with that problem… tangent! Deb, love the recipe as usual. You are the Queen of Foodie Inspiration.

    1. deb

      I can’t be much help telling you what an ounce is without a scale, unfortunately. Leaves vary wildly in size! Try grinding a handful and then another handful up until you get something resembling a cup.

      Faye — The pine nuts were left outside the pesto in this recipe (it would not be the case in a store-bought pesto) so there is no reason they can’t be skipped.

  3. I was just thinking this weekend, as I was making a big bowl of potato salad (with chives and prosciutto) that I am THRILLED that it is now officially potato salad season, because I could eat that stuff every day. Even deli potato salad, though homemade is infinitely better. Thank you for the additional recipe to add to my arsenal!

  4. I will make this with homemade pesto as soon as my basil plant starts flourising a little more; however, I am going to try the less tasty version, as there’s some store bought pesto sitting in my fridge :)

  5. Normally, I am not a potato salad girl. I do not like mayo one bit. This however looks lovely and tasty and I cannot wait to try it out!!! -Lily

  6. holy homemade pesto!
    you say the words “pesto potato salad with green beans” and my mouth isn’t sure what’s happening. it’s like a little kid who wants to jump in the pool- knows it will be fun- but isn’t quite sure it’s safe. but one look at the pile of homemade pesto waiting to be slathered atop the potatoes, and my mouth suddenly has the courage to jump.

  7. mmmm….this sounds so yummy that my tummy is growling at work. :) i will definitely have to try it this summer.

    i’m one of those who has never-ending variations to potato salad as well. hot german with vinegar and bacon, mayo based with dill, without dill, egg, no egg and on and on.

  8. i like the simplicity. I recently bought a bunch of spicy thai basil which really intrigued me at the farmer’s market. there were 5 types of basil!

    italian, thai, thai spicy, lemon, and one more (can’t remember)

    Good for the summer

  9. Hi Deb – This looks marvelous! My husband is a pesto fanatic so this will be a welcome change to my normal potato salad!
    (For some reason your entire recipe is hyperlinked to the epicurious site. Don’t know if you meant to do that. Looks like a closing tag is missing up top.)

  10. This is gorgeous. I like to make the same salad but using salsa verde rather in place of the pesto – then I get the tang of cornichons + salty capers!

  11. Natalie M.

    I am so incredibly elated to have stumbled onto this blog.. so many recipes that make my mouth water.. (in homer simpson voice) Mmmmmm

  12. Christa

    How did you know what is in my Freshdirect order? I didn’t know what I was going to make, I just ordered a bunch of stuff and thought I would be inspired. I am. :)

  13. This looks yummy! I love pine nuts so this is perfect as well. Thanks for another great recipe, this one will definitely be going on my link round up for the week!

  14. Winnie

    this looks wonderful – and I can taste it without having made it yet! Would be so good with grilled chicken or fish!

  15. I love making side dishes with both potatoes and a veggie because it’s a little less work than doing them separately. This looks yummy, pesto makes eveything better :)

  16. Moose

    Substitute walnuts for pine nuts if you like; I prefer using Romano over Parmesan in my pesto — gives it the nice saltiness to go with the sweet basil

  17. Sarah

    Hubby asked me (this morning) to make something for dinner using the potatoes and green beans we have. Perfect timing for this recipe. Thanks!

  18. I don’t think I’m alone here when I say, oh HELL YES. I typically make my potato and green bean salad with a mustard vinaigrette (and some toasted walnuts and arugula), and I’ve never tried it with pesto. I will address that grave oversight within the week.

  19. Susan

    This looks very good. I’m really getting to like salads without the mayonaise based dressings more and more. I wonder how it would taste with a little of the pesto added to the potatoes and beans while they’re still hot. Hmmm..

  20. lisa

    Hi Deb, I’m a long time fan but new poster. I noticed you don’t have any recipes calling for jicama. I used 1/2 a jicama for a slaw I made yesterday and was looking for inspiration for the rest. Any thoughts?

  21. Now that’s a potato salad! I love pesto on vegetables, put it on broccoli all the time with a squeeze of lemon juice. Also love it on peas, which would be great for a change from the beans.

  22. Oh my lord, I think I found the potato salad of my dreams. I hate mayo and egg, so usually I avoid that bowl at barbecues, but this looks fantastic! Definitely on my list for summer picnics.

  23. I am never without homemade pesto. Pesto scrambled eggs are what’s for dinner (at least) once a week. If I’m fancy, I’ll fry up some teeny tiny cubed potatoes, throw in some pinenuts, maybe some halved grape tomatoes, and make a pesto frittata. I pray pray pray my son never gets tired of pesto. And if he does, he better be old enough to make his own dinner. The kid’s got a gut that rivals Homer Simpson’s–he’ll be okay til breakfast. ;)

  24. I love pesto and I have basil growing in my square foot gardens but I have no food processor. I’ve tried using a blender but it just doesn’t work for making pesto. What did people do to make pesto before food processors??

  25. This looks absolutely delicious. I am not a big salad fan, but I adore potatoes and green beans, so to combine them like this is my idea of heaven.

  26. Traci

    Congrats on the Better Homes & Gardens mention. They were most kind – of course there are nothing but nice things to write about you and your recipes. :)

  27. April

    This looks great!
    I too have not been getting all the posts. The last one I recieved was the
    strawberry shortcake.

  28. as if there was a risk of potato salad monotony

    I’m really really sorry for this (I’ve been writing English essays all day -I’m a studient- and I’m in grammar-nazi-mode) but shouldn’t this be ‘as if there were’? I think it’s the conditional tense.
    I wish I didn’t know this T__T. I might be wrong.

    The point IS, pesto! This looks amazing <3

  29. Elizabeth in VT

    I make a summer salad almost exactly like this, but I use broken linguine, no potatoes, and grape or (homegrown) cherry tomatoes. Pasta and potatoes. Who’d a thunk it? I will try it.

  30. Teresa

    Hrrm, basil+beans+new potatoes=something that will be pure heaven in about a month when all three are ready in my garden.

    Thanks!

  31. Joelle

    This might have to have a shot…

    We usually are sticklers for a German Potato salad…no mayo, so it packs well and can survive the heat…lots of vinegar, mushrooms, onions/scallions, etc etc etc. But any excuse to get some greenery into the diet should be considered!

  32. I’m one of the world’s most passionate mayo-haters. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing containing mayo that should be called a salad is Caesar, and that’s only if you make the mayo-aoili yourself!!! Mayo is just too rich, too fatty, too masking to carry any flavours. This Ligurian-inspired potato salad looks gorgeous and elegant. Just the way it should be :)

  33. holy moly!!!!!!!!!! three of my favorite things together…finally! this is what i will be doing with my abundance of basil this summer. thanks!

  34. deb

    Winnie — Your email address is not listed as subscribed with Feedblitz, the newsletter service. Shoot me an email if you have any more Qs.

    Indigo — Very likely, will fix, thanks.

  35. Jen

    Looks fabulous!! This is definitely a must try! We can’t eat mayo here and I think my husband is getting sick of my vinaigrette everything-but-the-kitchen-sink potato salad!! Do you think you could use yams/sweet potatoes for this?? hhmm…….

    I have a business at the Farmer’s Market so I’m going to check for fresh basil on Saturday! Thanks!!

  36. What a great unique potato salad. I rarely ever make potato salad but I would definitely give this one a try. I love the pesto and green beans. This is a great twist and healthier alternative to the traditional. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Chocoslovakian

    Looks brilliant. Will definitely try it. And seeing as I have made your ‘asparagus & goat cheese pasta’ for a dozen dinners already (asparagus season is short in Ontario), it’s probably time for something new.

    And on behalf of my late Czech mother, bless you for saying “central Europe” instead of “Eastern Europe”.

  38. Rose Marie Heard

    Thanks Deb–as a diabetic I have to watch those pesky carbs and the sugar. Last year I grew my own Basil, Sweet and Cinnamon kinds. I am gonna give this a shot.
    Thanks again

  39. I really dislike mayo, but love potatoes so this might be the potato salad for me. Hopefully I will be able to grow some basil this summer if I can get stuff in the ground in time!

  40. Stephanie

    Yum, yum and yum! But wait…who is not talking anymore because of this recipe??? Is this the recipe that drove Martha and the Contessa apart? Please illuminate me!!

  41. I love pesto! I have bunches of basil growing in my garden and make big batches all summer long. I freeze little containers of it and use it all winter long. Thank you for a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

  42. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have downed that Blue Moon so fast on an empty stomach, ’cause I thought it said “Pesky Potato Salad. Having said that, it looks and sounds delish, and I have basil growing in my garden and Yukon golds in the pantry. I’m almost good to go!

  43. courtney

    Finally. Love you, but HATE mayo, and have to occasionally turn away because mayo in vast quantities makes me nauseous.

  44. Nancy from PA

    I love potatoes and green beans together! Lately, we’ve been overdosing on a similar recipe, sans pesto, from Cooks Illustrated that starts by oven roasting green beans and diced redskins, tosses them in a mild red wine vinaigrette while still hot, and adds shredded raddichio as a final step. Yum. Simply yum.

  45. threw this together last night after grocery shopping and picking up the husband from the auto dealership, and it was FANTABULOUS! went the lame way and bought the pesto, but it was spectacular still! paired this with grilled chicken…a meal unto itself with leftovers, and i only made half a recipe!! thanks, deb!

  46. Nan

    Sounds perfect for a picnic where I won’t have to worry so much about the mayo giving us all the “trots!” Okay…about the quilt…still waiting! How about this…you go to a fabric store near you…pick out two or three fabrics that you love and get a little swatch of each and then send me the swatches…I’ll match them so you’ll have something that matches whatever it is you’re doing…sounds like a plan, no?

  47. scott

    hooray! (as i detest mayo…it literally makes me start heaving at the site of it). going to make this tonight…i bet that it would be great with any kind of pesto, i once made a cilantro/pistachio pesto.

  48. Chris

    Made this tonight, but didn’t have basil so I used 1/2&1/2 of arugula & spinach in place of the basil since it’s what I had in the house. SO GOOD! Thanks for the inspiration.

  49. sarah

    I made this tonight minus the green bean and pine nuts…still excellent. i just didnt have the both those ingredients in the pantry ;) Used fresh basil from our garden! Divine! Your recipes are ALWAYS excellent! Thanks!

  50. Rebecca

    I also made this last night but added fresh spinach to the basil-garlic mix. I was fabulous. I added the green onions towards the end. I don’t think we were supposed to cook or process them…
    Thanks for a great blog – keep those posts coming!

  51. esther

    Sounds lovely – will make it tonight.
    One questions – when are the scallions added? It’s not in the recipe.

  52. I’m pretty sure this potato salad kicks all other potato salads out of the water. I would much rather eat a pesto-based salad than a mayo-based salad any day!

  53. tae

    If you can get your hands on fresh (as in picked <10min ago), homegrown basil, I HIGHLY recommend using that in this recipe! It takes pesto to a whole new world. Even if you’re super busy this summer, basil is just about the easiest thing possible to grow if you have a patch of full sun (outside is better, but inside will work) and 10 sec to water the plant every day. (tip: pinch off the tips when you see the plant start to produce what look like little flower buds).

    Also, Faye– I’ve substituted walnuts for pine nuts in pesto before (more for cost constraints than for taste preferences), and the result is fine, although as Deb mentioned, you can skip them altogether in this recipe.

  54. Crystal

    OH Deb, this is amazing potato salad. I even made pesto for the first time ever and I can’t believe I hadn’t done it before. My potatoes came out a little too soft but I blame that on the Real Housewives of NJ marathon – I can’t pull myself away. Still, it tastes great!

  55. Elaine

    I tried printing out the recipe, but it goes to Epicureous. I thought you said that it was fixed..I’ll try again. We love pesto, and this sounds amazing. Thanks.

  56. I made this salad today. I used feta instead of the parmesean just because that was what I had on hand. It came out wonderful and is a definate keeper!

  57. hillarybug

    Thanks for the great recipe! I made this for a picnic and it was a hit with my friends. I skipped the cheese to avoid worry about lack of refrigeration. I also used about twice as much garlic and twice as much basil. I used a combo of store bought and home grown basil, and the difference in the smell between them was remarkable. The homegrown basil was so much more fragrant, deeply colored, and sweet. I cut the potatoes fairly small and cooked them about 5 minutes after the water returned to a boil before adding the green beans. They were cooked perfectly. Thanks again.

  58. Charlotte

    I was excited when you posted this, being mayo-phobic and all. I made it for a BBQ tonight, and it turned out great! (Even my mother agreed.) I added celery, which gave it an extra crunch.

  59. wisecat

    Hey Deb,

    This is great! Made it twice…once for a baby shower and it was a hit! BUT the recipe doesn’t say when to add the green onions. Both times I thought I had forgotten to add them…but realized it’s not in the directions. And I can’t make a thing without a recipe!

    Still really good and my 11 month old just eats it all up like it’s candy! :)

  60. Marissa

    just made this for a sunny Saturday lunch and it was yumm, so fresh!! I also noticed the onions had been left out of the directions so I added them with the basil and garlic before making the pesto and it worked great, although I’m sure they’d be just as good in little pieces mixed in with the pine nuts at the end!

  61. Kat

    Oh… My… GAWD!!!!!

    I stumbled across your site just a few days ago, and this recipe was one of the first to catch my eye, since I’d just harvested a lot of basil from my garden. We have guests over this week, and I thought this would go well with the spicy baked chicken thighs I was planning for this evening.

    I just took a sample of it (it’s been chilling for about an hour), and… WOW!!! Oh, WOW!!! Yum, yum, yum! I can no longer say that I don’t care for potato salad, because this is AWESOME!!!!

    *ahem*

    Excuse me. I must now go put this under lock and key so I don’t entirely devour it before dinner…

    Wow.

  62. elizabeth b.

    Hi I’m making this right now and I don’t think you mentioned what to do with the green onions. i guess I’ll just toss them in with pine nuts and vinegar.

  63. Mana

    Could I use Thai basil in the pesto? It smells somewhat different from ‘regular’ basil, but still delicious. I only had Thai and purple basil to choose from at the Farmers Market today. I went with the Thai…

  64. Alex

    So I just made this, Deb, and it tastes fantastic. However, my pesto didn’t work out to look quite the same as yours and I’m not quite sure why not. I’ve made pestos before, usually with fresh parsley and parmesan as additional ingredients to the ones used in this one, and they’ve worked out to look like yours, so I’m at a loss.

    Anyway, my problem is that the basil a) didn’t grind up very well and b) didn’t combine with the olive oil very well at all. Some things I’m wondering about are: your basil leaves look a lot more ‘glossy’ than mine, and a bit stiffer… I wasn’t sure what to do with the scallions (not mentioned in recipe), though I /assume/ they were not to go in the pesto… and finally, does the rate at which you drizzle the olive oil matter? I have a food processor which /must/ be sealed before it will process, so I was adding olive oil by the generous dollop, about 1/3 cup in total, distributed over three times adding it in. Maybe my food processor just sucks as well, it is old and was cheap but, like I said, it has worked before.

    I also “fixed” the consistency of the pesto by just adding some dry parmesan cheese to it to soak up the olive oil, so it didn’t turn out to be a big problem, and tastes awesome despite not looking quite as pretty as yours =P.

  65. Rae

    Where do the scallions go? (I’ve tried them both in the pesto and chopped on top, and both are delicious, I’m just wondering what you did?)

  66. Katie K

    This was delicious! I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts because that’s what I had, and a frozen homemade pesto from last year’s garden (because I don’t have one this year. sad). Yum! I’m not a fan of mayo in any way shape or form, and this was a refreshing change from the more vinegar-y potato salads I usually make.

  67. Antigoni

    This looks so yummy! I too am on the search for mayo free potato salad! The minute I saw this I visioned it with the addition of cherry tomatoes sliced in half and little cubes of fresh mozzarella! I’m taking to a friend’s cabin for the memorial weekend! I think it will be delicious! Thanks for the great idea!

  68. jenniegirl

    MMMM…just made this tonight after a busy day of packing and trying to “use things up”. We did cheat and use some TJ pesto, but it was still really good…and once we’re settled I’ll try it again making the pesto from scratch. Next time I’d like to try adding asparagus too…we ate it with hard boiled eggs on top, strawberries on the side, and called it dinner….

  69. Yue

    I made a ton of pesto the other day and didn’t know what to do with it. And then I stumbled onto this recipe. WOW. it’s so delicious I can’t stop eating it! I love finding new ways to dress potatoes! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  70. Ellen

    I made this for a party on Friday night, with the addition of sliced cherry tomatoes. It was loved by all! I had a stroke of genius this morning and took some of the leftover salad, picked out the parmesan pieces (so they wouldn’t burn/stick), and threw it in saucepan to heat it up. Then I topped it with a poached egg and some freshly shredded parmesan. Dude. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

  71. heather em

    Short on green beans, but long on broccoli… thinking of swapping, and perhaps adding in some pasta! Thanks for the inspiration, Deb.
    (also, would some finely chopped yellow onions be a terrible replacement for scallions? Can you tell i’m sick and don’t want to leave the house for groceries? Yeah.)

  72. Hi, I’m getting ready to make this for my housemates (18 in all!!), and I’m super excited. A little nervous though, since other times I’ve made pesto, I’ve included the parm and pine nuts in the food processor. It seems like everyone has had good results though.

    What do you recommend I do if the pesto isn’t binding well in the food processor? At that point, should I just add the pine nuts and parm?

    Thanks!
    Julie

  73. Courtney C

    I made this for a family party I had at my new house and everyone loved it! I used Basil from my garden (yay!) and made everything ahead of time and then just combined about an hour before serving. It was easy and the perfect fresh summer potato salad! Thanks again Deb!

  74. Christine B

    I just made this and kind of smashed the potatoes..delicious! I am going to serve this at Thanksgiving. My mom’s a vegetarian, so it’s nice to have the vegetables be healthy and interesting.

  75. Dana

    I forgot the green onions, and used two times the but it was still fantastic! I used toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts — and put half of them straight into the pesto, and half straight on top — and it was great.

  76. Katie A

    Just made this, and it was lovely! Used toasted sunflower seeds rather than pine nuts; otherwise it was made according to the recipe. Really nice and summery. Thanks for another good one!

  77. Alice

    Just as you, I use “recipes” as jumping off points. So, I wanted to let you know that this is great when you substitute edamame for the green beans!

  78. Brittany

    I made this potato salad with frozen pesto from last year’s garden season, and loved how quickly it all came together. This morning I had just a handful of pesto potatoes leftover and made a delightful omelette with them, some spinach, and some goat cheese. Thanks for the recipe!

  79. Julie

    My mom is Ligurian and we had potatoes and green bean salad all summer long when we were growing up. Sometimes with pesto, sometimes just oil and vinegar. She often added hard boiled eggs to it and made it a meal.

  80. Francesca

    I am Ligurian myself and the thing is, traditionally we make pasta al pesto (mostly trofie or trenette) throwing in the pasta-cooking water some potatoes alongside with green beans or zucchini and then dress the whole (drained) thing with pesto and grated parmesan. I woulnd’t have thought of upping the potatoes and leaving out the pasta altogether, but it sounds like a pretty good idea I will have to try. Thanks!

  81. Anne

    Thank you for posting the recipe: I made this tonight for dinner. I thought it was OK, but nothing I would make again. I added some eggs to make it a full meal.

  82. Colleen

    If I default to store-bought pesto (from an Italian deli that makes the closest to homemade I’ve ever tasted), how much would I use?