The official start of summer is still a couple of weeks off, but it seems safe to assume that, for most of us, Memorial Day has already ushered in the season. My husband, Les, and I were invited to join some of his old work friends for a backyard cookout that weekend, and our contribution was to be a side dish or dessert. We couldn’t choose, of course, so we made both! Les brought his nearly world famous chocolate chip cookies—one of these days I’ll convince him to share them here— and I picked this salad, which had arrived in my inbox from NYTimes Cooking just a few days before the cookout.
I picked this one for a few reasons. First, I knew that there would probably already be plenty of macaroni salads and mayonnaise-based potato salads, so this would be a change of pace. The dressing here is essentially a pesto, but made with parsley and chives rather than basil. It’s a bright, vibrant salad that looks great on the plate and it “ages” well at a potluck without that greasy, broken mayo coating. There was also the matter of the large bag of baby potatoes Les had picked up at Costco the week before, and we had almost exactly the 2 pounds I needed for this salad! Green beans added a little bit of crunch that was just right, though I can imagine cut spears of asparagus would have been tasty, too. I cut the potatoes into quarters to get more surface area to hold the pesto, and boiled them until fork tender, tossing in the green beans for the final two minutes. So easy, and all in one pot!
The recipe sounded great as written, but I tweaked it just a bit to satisfy our love for extra garlic. I didn’t have pine nuts but found that toasted pepitas worked great in the pesto and added even more pretty green color. Our parm-romano blend provided a deep savory flavor, and I used a nice peppery olive oil for even more zing.
There was quite a lot of pesto dressing, and I’m glad that I added it gradually, as the potatoes and green beans didn’t need the whole amount. But who minds having a little leftover pesto on hand? It will be delicious on some grilled fish or maybe tossed with shrimp and hot cooked pasta. Oh wait, on grilled vegetables! Mmm.
Just one more thing I’d add about this salad— serve it right away, and make it on a day that you have plenty of people around to eat it. We had a bit left over and found that it fell kind of flat after a couple of days in the fridge.
Potato Salad with Chive & Parsley Pesto
I only made a few minor tweaks to this NYT Cooking recipe, and it has already won a coveted spot in my summer side rotation!
- 2 pounds baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt (for cooking water)
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into short pieces
- 1/4 cup roasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- 3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 1 cup packed Italian parsley leaves
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (a bright, peppery one is perfect here)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Parm-Romano blend
- 1 small bunch chives, snipped
- Juice of 1/2 large lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add salt and reduce heat to a constant simmer. Cook potatoes about 15 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a fork or knife tip. Add green beans only for the last minute or two, so they remain bright green and tender-crisp.
- Drain potatoes and return them to the hot pot to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
- Make the pesto while the potatoes and beans cook. In the small bowl of a food processor, pulse together the pepitas and garlic. Add parsley and pulse several times. Use a small spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Run the processor continuously while you drizzle in the olive oil, and puree until it is an even paste. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the Parm-Romano, lemon juice, chives and salt/pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, combine the warm potatoes with about half of the pesto. Fold gently to coat and add more pesto to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve any leftover pesto and enjoy tossed with pasta or roasted vegetables. It will keep better with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil floated on top.