Pesto Potato Salad

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Pesto Potato Salad

Chef Sarah Grueneberg

Monteverde Restaurant


Pesto is a summer classic, traditionally made with the abundance of fresh basil available now. The herbal sauce is often tossed with pasta, but at Monteverde in Chicago, Chef Sarah Grueneberg cross-utilizes it with potato salad, adding fresh summer beans for contrast. The dish is a light and refreshing change from the typical mayo-heavy recipe.


Basil pesto

1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

½ cup fresh parsley leaves

1 small garlic clove, peeled

2/3 cup fruity, mild extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp. flaky sea salt

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 tbsp. freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

Potato salad

1 cup assorted summer beans (such as Romano, wax and green beans)

1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeld

½ cup plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/3 cup basil pesto (see recipe), divided

½ cup green olives, pitted sliaced

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Shaved pecorino cheese, for garnish


1. For basil pesto, Place blender jar in freezer to chill. Meanwhile, submerge the basil

and parsley in a large bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes; let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Gently lift herbs from water. Repeat soaking again, using fresh cold water and ice. Let soak for 15 minutes.

3. Remove blender jar from freezer. Place the garlic, oil and salt in blender and blend until smooth. Working in batches, lift herbs from water, shaking off excess but not all water from leaves (a bit of water will make a smooth pesto.) Add basil and parsley to blender; blend using

short pulses for each addition of herbs, just to break down larger leaves (do not over-blend). Finally, add cheeses; blend on medium-high until smooth.

4. Remove mixture from blender and place over an ice bath; chill until cold. (Cover the surface of any leftover pesto with more olive oil, then cover with plastic wrap and a lid; pesto will keep in freezer for about a month.)

5. For potato salad: Cut beans on the bias into 1-inch pieces. In a large pot filled with 3 quarts of cold water, add the potatoes and 1/2 cup kosher salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook potatoes 20 to 30 minutes until tender but still with a bit of resistance; do not overcook.

6. With slotted spoon, remove potatoes from water; reserving cooking water. Cool potatoes on a sheet tray for a few minutes.

7. Meanwhile, return water in pot to a boil; add beans and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until tender. Shock beans in ice water.

8. Slice warm potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds and place in large bowl. Toss potatoes with about 2 1/2 tablespoons pesto and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

9. In mixing bowl, toss blanched beans, olives, lemon juice and olive oil with remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

10. On plate, arrange pesto potato slices in an even layer as a base; spoon bean mixture on top and dollop with remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons pesto. Garnish with basil leaves, pine nuts and shaved cheese. The potato salad can be served immediately or refrigerated for a few hours and served cold.

Photograph courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission

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