Potato salad is a picnic staple, and the classic American potato salad –with mayonnaise, egg, celery, pickles and such– is great anytime of the year. In summer, though, I like to take advantage of the season’s fresh herbs and vegetables to make a lighter, fresher-tasting potato salad with pesto and green beans. This pesto contains mint and parsley as well as the classic fresh basil. All quantities are approximate, and feel free to experiment –I don’t think I’ve ever made pesto exactly the same way twice.
(Serves 6 as a side dish.)
About 2 pounds (1kg) fingerling potatoes (or new potatoes)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
About 1/2 pound (230g) fresh green beans
About 1 heaping cup (240ml) chopped fresh basil leaves (packed)
About 1/2 heaping (120ml) cup chopped fresh mint leaves (packed), plus a handful of whole leaves
About 1/4 cup (60ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (packed)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup (60ml) pine nuts, plus a tablespoon or so for garnish
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher or sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
2. Trim the beans and cut them in half. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Put the beans in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until they are tender but still have a bit of crunch, 3-5 minutes. Drain and immediately put them in the ice bath until they are cold, about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
3. Cut the potatoes lengthwise once and again crosswise if they are large. Scatter on a baking sheet, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Bake them in the oven until they are tender, about 20-30 minutes, depending on size. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
4. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet set over medium heat until they are light golden brown. Don’t leave the stove while you do this –they can burn quickly.
4. Make the pesto. (This is the fun part.) Put the basil, mint, lemon zest, garlic, pine nuts, remaining 2 tablespoon of oil and a few grinds of black pepper and about half of the lemon juice into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until smooth. Taste and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if necessary.
5. Toss the pesto with the cooled potatoes and the green beans. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. The salad will keep well refrigerated for about two days. Just before serving, you can toss in a few mint leaves if you like and garnish with the reserved pine nuts.