Pesto potato salad with green beans

This pesto potato salad with green beans is a delightful side dish for your barbecue nights. Sweet baby potatoes are served with green beans, pine nuts and pecorino flakes all tossed in a delicious pesto dressing. All the flavours of basil pesto come together in this fantastic baby potato salad. Perfect in the spring and summer when new potatoes are in season.

Basil pesto is the inspiration behind this pesto potato salad. The classic ingredients to basil pesto are all there: fresh basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, pecorino cheese. Instead of blitzing them all together, they become part of the salad. Only the olive oil and basil leaves are combined to make a dressing. The pecorino and pine nuts feature as actual salad ingredients.

The stars of the salad are obviously the potatoes, and I chose to use baby potatoes. They have a soft skin – I like to leave it on – and a sweet quality thanks to the fact that the sugar has not fully developed into starch yet. Green beans are just the perfect sidekick. Did you know that both potatoes and green beans are featured in original pasta al pesto in Liguria – the region in Italy they come from.

Baby potato salad with green beans and pesto dressing.

Potatoes and green beans with pesto

Basil pesto comes from the beautiful Italian Riviera. The region is called Liguria, and the region’s capital is the city of Genoa. Liguria has its traditional pasta shape known as trofie, and the most common way to serve trofie is obviously with pesto. Real trofie alla genovese is not just a simple plate of pasta with basil pesto sauce. Two more ingredients are part of the recipe.

In trofie alla genovese cubed potatoes and green beans are cooked in the pasta water. In fact, fresh pasta only takes a handful of minutes to cook, so the vegetables are actually added to the water first. The presence of the potatoes makes the pasta water extra rich in starch. Pesto is usually cut with some of the pasta cooking water, and this makes it particularly creamy. So the addition of green beans to this pesto potato salad is not casual but actually inspired by the real deal.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Potatoes – choose baby (new) potatoes if available, they’re great in salads!
  • Green beans – fresh if possible, otherwise you can use frozen.
  • Fresh basil leaves – the key flavour in this recipe, must be fresh.
  • Olive oil – best if extra virgin, this is the one ingredient you really want to splurge on.
  • Pine nuts – this is the original element in Ligurian pesto, but feel free to use sunflower seeds in case of allergy.
  • Pecorino flakes – a beloved Italian sheep’s milk cheese, it is very salty and has a similar texture to Parmigiano. Sub with Parmigiano or Grana Padano if not available.
  • Lime – to season the cooked potatoes.
  • Salt.

Where is the garlic? Garlic is a traditional ingredient in classic basil pesto which should be quite unmissable. I personally prefer to omit it as I love this potato salad mild. But if you are a big garlic lover you can throw a small clove (or a half if particularly big) in the ingredients list. It will give the whole final product a zing.

Baby potatoes with green beans and other ingredients needed for the recipe.

How to make pesto potato salad

  • Get ahead and cook your potatoes and green beans in advance! Drain and chill overnight.
  • Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces; in this case I have quartered my baby potatoes.
  • Squeeze the juice of a half lime over the potato bits to season them a little (picture below, left).
  • In a blender combine the basil leaves, olive oil and salt and blend until you get a rather homogeneous basil oil (picture below, right).
  • Transfer the potatoes and green beans to a bowl, pour the dressing over and gently toss.
  • Top with the pine nuts and Pecorino flakes. You can reserve some basil leaves as decoration.

Pesto potato salad with green beans in a white serving bowl.

What to serve it with

This pesto potato salad is a fantastic companion to your summertime grilling. It goes great with grilled meat as well as grilled veggies or halloumi! I like making several bowls of various salads when we’re grilling, and make a little salad buffet. For example, to the side of this potato salad I’d have a bowl with a fruity kale salad with peaches and a slaw like this Asian coleslaw with sriracha mayo.

If you’re not grilling, you can serve this potato salad as side dish to your main course. I find it particularly nice next to this oven-baked pork loin with hazelnut sauce. Or for an indoor burger night you can serve this salad together with these delicious hamburger open sandwiches. For a vegetarian option I suggest my walnut and red cabbage empanadas!

Potato salad with pesto dressing, green beans, pine nuts and pecorino flakes.

I hope this pesto potato salad will brighten up your spring and summer days. It is a delightful way to use baby potatoes when they’re in season.

Whether it will be as a side dish to grilled meat or to a favourite main course, enjoy the fresh flavour of this salad with the lovely texture of the pine nuts and Pecorino flakes.

Let me know in the comments if you liked it and what your thoughts of this somewhat deconstructed pesto are. And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!

A delicious potato salad made with baby potatoes and green beans. This pesto potato salad has a fresh basil olive oil dressing, pine nuts and salty pecorino flakes. Inspired by pasta with pesto alla genovese, this Italian style potato salad is a summertime favourite.

Baby potato salad with green beans and pesto dressing.
5 from 10 votes
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Pesto potato salad with green beans

A baby potato salad with a refreshing pesto dressing. New potatoes, green beans, pine nuts and pecorino flakes tossed with a fresh basil olive oil.

Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baby potato salad, basil pesto dressing, pesto potato salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 394 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 600 g new potatoes boiled, skin on
  • 150 g green beans trimmed
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 8 basil sprigs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • 20 g pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp Pecorino flakes

Instructions

  1. Clean and cook the potatoes in simmering water until tender. Cooking time depends on the size of the potatoes. Drain and rinse under cold water to speed up the cooling process. This passage should take about 1 hour and can be done in advance. Store the cooked potatoes in an airtight container in the fridge.

  2. Cook the green beans, ends trimmed, in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.

  3. In the meantime, cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and add them to a bowl. Squeeze the half lime and drizzle the juice over the potatoes. Add the cooled green beans to the same bowl.

  4. Combine the olive oil, salt and basil leaves in a jug. Blend until smooth. You can reserve a couple of leaves to use as decoration.

  5. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and green beans and gently toss. Top with pine nuts, Pecorino flakes and basil leaves (optional).

Recipe Notes

This salad keeps up to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.

The nutrition information provided is only an estimate.

Nutrition Facts
Pesto potato salad with green beans
Amount Per Serving
Calories 394 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 333mg14%
Potassium 754mg22%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 320IU6%
Vitamin C 37mg45%
Calcium 64mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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20 Comments

  1. Linda March 19, 2021 at 06:12

    5 stars
    Ahhh this is my kind of salad! Easy ingredients, can be made ahead of time, and flavorful in every bite. Can’t wait to make this one

    Reply
    1. Eva March 19, 2021 at 08:28

      Hi Linda! This is definitely a great make-ahead salad, perfect to bring to picnics and bbq parties!

      Reply
  2. Farrukh Aziz March 19, 2021 at 10:47

    5 stars
    Mmm! Looks so good! This is perfect to balance a full meal! I need to try this!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:32

      Hi Farrukh! Hope you will enjoy it!

      Reply
  3. Jenny March 19, 2021 at 19:52

    5 stars
    One of the most delicious salads I have made recently. Will make it again! Thank you for the recipe.

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:32

      Thanks Jenny! I knew you would love it.

      Reply
  4. Amy Liu Dong March 20, 2021 at 03:15

    5 stars
    I love this salad recipe it’s easy, healthy, and really delicious. I will definitely make this for everyone. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:33

      Hi Amy! Hope all your guests will appreciate it.

      Reply
  5. Jacqueline Debono March 20, 2021 at 18:33

    5 stars
    I love that you’ve taken the ingredients of pasta alla ligure and used them to make a salad. Such a fabulous idea and I’m sure it tastes divine. Pinning for later and definitely making soon!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:33

      Ah Jacqui I am so glad you got to see this recipe! I knew you’d love this! Hope you get to make it.

      Reply
  6. Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer March 21, 2021 at 01:28

    5 stars
    Oh this salad has my name all over it! I love potatoes with pasta! I can’t stop staring at the pictures! I know what I’m making tomorrow for brunch! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:34

      Hi Lori, thank you so much! Hope it did not disappoint!

      Reply
  7. Kushigalu March 21, 2021 at 17:31

    5 stars
    Love pesto and this is amazing. Great combination of flavors. Cant wait to make this salad for dinner.

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 20:34

      Hi Kushigalu! I hope you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  8. Uma Srinivas March 21, 2021 at 20:45

    5 stars
    I love pesto-flavored salad! This looks like a so good and easy recipe, love to have a salad for dinner time!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 21:00

      Hi Uma! This definitely makes for a lovely dinner salad! Hope you get to try it soon!

      Reply
  9. Kate March 21, 2021 at 21:52

    5 stars
    Many thanks for sharing this potato salad recipe. It’s totally different from what we usually serve here in the south of Germany. So I will love to try it for some guests soon.

    Reply
    1. Eva March 21, 2021 at 22:08

      Hi Kate! Yes, this is definitely not a classic potato salad, I really wanted to give it an Italian twist. Hope your guests will love it!

      Reply
  10. Melanie C March 22, 2021 at 04:56

    5 stars
    This was super delicious and my kids loved it. That’s a big win for us!! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva March 23, 2021 at 10:30

      Hi Melanie! Always glad to help get veggies into kids’ meals, so this makes me very happy.

      Reply

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