Dinner/ Easter/ Party/ Salad/ Side dish

Pesto potato salad

11 May 2021 By Aleksandra

This pesto potato salad is definitely unusual but I’m sure you’ll be hooked once you try it! It’s packed with so much flavor! It has potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, green beans, cherry tomatoes, flavorful pecorino cheese, all tossed with lemon basil pesto sauce and topped with crispy prosciutto. It is seriously one of the best potato salads ever!

This salad is great for any potluck party or picnic. It’s also great as a work lunch!

Pesto potato salad with eggs, green, beans, cherry tomatoes on a blue plate.

Ingredients

What you need to make this amazing salad:

  • potatoes (more on that below)
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • green beans (you could also use asparagus – I already have a recipe for potato asparagus salad on my website)
  • cherry tomatoes (or any other type of tomatoes)
  • pecorino cheese (you can sub for parmesan or omit it, but it adds lots of flavor), pecorino cheese is a flavorful hard Italian cheese similar to parmesan but it’s made from sheep’s milk and not cow’s milk, it’s also used to make a delicious 20-minute pasta dish cacio e pepe, you can use parmesan or grana padano instead
  • prosciutto – we cook prosciutto in a pan to make it super crispy, just like bacon (you could substitute it for bacon, I used prosciutto because I wanted to continue with the Italian-inspired theme of this salad), you can also add it not cooked to the salad if you wish
  • lemon basil pesto sauce (more on that below)

Best potatoes for potato salad:

  • waxy potatoes (like fingerling potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, or new potatoes) are low in starch and high in moisture, hold their shape well after cooking, have firm flesh, and are great for potato salad
  • or all-purpose potatoes (mixed potato type, like Yukon Gold).

Don’t use starchy/mealy potatoes (like Russets, Idaho) – they are high in starch and low in moisture, they don’t hold their shape very well. They are fluffy on the inside and are great for mashed potatoes.

Labeled ingredients for pesto potato salad.

For the lemon basil pesto sauce you will need:

  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • lemon zest and juice
  • garlic
  • pine nuts (or cashews/almonds)

This sauce is similar to my basil pesto recipe with the difference that I added lemon zest and juice, which brighten up the whole dish and I added more olive oil to make the sauce more runny.

You could also use other types of pesto, like parsley pesto, arugula pesto, celery leaf pesto, or ramp/wild garlic pesto (make sure to add lemon juice, lemon zest, and more olive oil to these recipes).

You can also use store-bought pesto – dilute it with olive oil and add lemon zest and juice.

Labeled ingredients for lemon basil pesto sauce.

How to make pesto potato salad step by step

Chopped potatoes, green beans, and cherry tomatoes on a wooden board. Potatoes and eggs in a pot.

STEP 1: Prepare the vegetables:

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks, about 1.5-inch (4 cm). Trim green beans (only the stem ends) and cut in half. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Shave pecorino cheese into strips with a vegetable peeler.

STEP 2: Cook the eggs and potatoes (I’m cooking the eggs and potatoes in the same pot but you can cook them separately if you wish):

Add the potatoes into a large pot and pour in boiling water. Salt the water generously, bring to a boil, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes. Add the eggs to the pot: use a large spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water, bring water to a boil, and cook for 9 minutes. When the time is up, transfer the eggs to an ice bath (a bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes or just very cold water) and crack their shells immediately with a spoon (this helps to peel them). Drain the potatoes and leave them in the pot.

Lemon basil pesto sauce in a food processor. Green beans in a pot.

STEP 3: Make the pesto sauce:

Add all the ingredients for the pesto sauce except the olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms (scrape the ingredients from the sides of the bowl from time to time). Add the olive oil and pulse the sauce at the lowest speed until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the pesto sauce to warm potatoes and toss to coat.

STEP 4: Cook the green beans:

Add the green beans into a medium pot, pour in boiling water, salt the water. Cook the green beans until tender, about 2-3 minutes for thin green beans or 6-7 minutes for thick beans.

Prosciutto is being fried in a black pan. All the components of the pesto potato salad in a pot.

STEP 5: Cook prosciutto:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, add prosciutto slices and cook (in batches) until browned and crispy on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess fat.

STEP 6: Assemble the salad:

Peel the eggs and cut into large chunks. Add the eggs, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and pecorino cheese to the pot with potatoes. Toss everything together, season with salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the salad onto plates and top with crispy prosciutto broken into smaller pieces.

Enjoy!

Pesto potato salad with eggs, green, beans, cherry tomatoes on a blue plate.

Storage

It tastes best slightly warm or at room temperature. It tastes best made fresh. Don’t try to reheat it or the cheese will melt. Pesto sauce also tastes best when it’s not reheated. You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days but the salad loses its bright color a bit. Store the crispy prosciutto separately from the salad or it won’t be crispy anymore. Take the salad out of the fridge about 1-2 hours before you plan on serving it.

How to make it ahead: for the best result, you can cook all the vegetables, prepare the sauce and store it separately. Combine before serving (this salad tastes best though when slightly warm potatoes are tossed with sauce).

Top tips

  • Make sure to not overcook the potatoes.
  • Add lemon basil pesto sauce to the potatoes while they are still warm.
  • To add even more flavor to this salad you could roast the potatoes: cut the potatoes into large chunks, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a large tray, make sure to not overcrowd the potatoes and bake them in batches if necessary. Roast at 425°F/220°C for about 20-30 minutes or until fork-tender and browned.
  • This salad is great for any potluck party or picnic. It’s also great as a work lunch. It can be served as a side dish or even as a light dinner. You can serve it as a side with chicken, fish, or steak.
A close up picture of pesto potato salad on a blue plate.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Pesto potato salad

Saying that this pesto potato salad is amazing is an understatement. It’s packed with so much flavor! It has potatoes, eggs, green beans, cherry tomatoes, shaved pecorino cheese, all slathered in delicious homemade basil pesto sauce and topped with crunchy prosciutto. This is seriously my favorite potato salad!
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Pesto potato salad on a blue plate.
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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 560kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the salad:

  • 2 lbs (1kg) waxy potatoes
  • 5 large eggs
  • 7 oz (200g) green beans
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (45g) shaved pecorino cheese or parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon frying oil
  • 3.5 oz (100g) prosciutto crudo or bacon
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the lemon basil pesto sauce:

  • 3-4 cups (45g) basil leaves, a handful
  • 1/2 cup (45g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts or cashews/almonds
  • zest grated from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the vegetables: Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks, about 1.5-inch (4 cm). Trim green beans (only the stem ends) and cut in half. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Shave pecorino cheese into strips with a vegetable peeler.
  • Cook the eggs and potatoes (I'm cooking the eggs and potatoes in the same pot but you can cook them separately if you wish): Add the potatoes into a large pot and pour in boiling water. Salt the water generously, bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes. Add the eggs to the pot: use a large spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water, bring water to a boil, and cook for 9 minutes. When the time is up, transfer the eggs to an ice bath (a bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes or just very cold water) and crack their shells immediately with a spoon (this helps to peel them). Drain the potatoes and leave them in the pot.
  • Cook the green beans: add the green beans into a medium pot, pour in boiling water, salt the water. Cook the green beans until tender, about 2-3 minutes for thin green beans or 6-7 minutes for thick beans.
  • Make the pesto: Add all the ingredients for the pesto sauce except the olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms (scrape the ingredients from the sides of the bowl from time to time). Add the olive oil and pulse the sauce at the lowest speed until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the pesto sauce to warm potatoes and toss to coat.
  • Cook prosciutto: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, add prosciutto slices and cook (in batches) until browned and crispy on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess fat.
  • Assemble the salad: Peel the eggs and cut into large chunks. Add the eggs, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and pecorino cheese to the pot with potatoes. Toss everything together, season with salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the salad onto plates and top with crispy prosciutto broken into smaller pieces.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • To add even more flavor to this salad you could roast the potatoes: cut the potatoes into large chunks, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a large tray, make sure to not overcrowd the potatoes and bake them in batches if necessary. Roast at 425°F/220°C for about 20-30 minutes or until fork-tender and browned.
  • Best potatoes for potato salad: waxy potatoes (like fingerling potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, or new potatoes) or all-purpose potatoes (like Yukon Gold).
  • You could also use other types of pesto, like parsley pesto, arugula pesto, celery leaf pesto, or ramp/wild garlic pesto or store-bought pesto (make sure to add lemon juice, lemon zest, and more olive oil to these recipes).
  • This salad is great for any potluck party or picnic. It’s also great as a work lunch. It can be served as a side dish or even as a light dinner.
  • It tastes best slightly warm or at room temperature. It tastes best made fresh. Don’t try to reheat it or the cheese will melt. Pesto sauce also tastes best when it’s not reheated. You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days but the salad loses its bright color a bit. Store the crispy prosciutto separately from the salad or it won’t be crispy anymore. Take the salad out of the fridge about 1-2 hours before you plan on serving it. How to make it ahead: for the best result, you can cook all the vegetables, prepare the sauce and store it separately. Combine before serving (this salad tastes best though when slightly warm potatoes are tossed with sauce).
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian-inspired
Keyword pesto potato salad

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