Summer Italian Potato Salad: Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette

Baby New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Baby New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

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A barbecue just isn’t a barbecue without a big bowl of potato salad. Or, at least, that’s what my husband thinks. And while I love the classic mayo-mustard based version (to which I always add plenty of vinegar), I’m constantly looking for new and interesting ideas.

The following recipe isn’t a new idea at all--it makes use of ingredients that the Italians have known for decades (centuries?) that partner beautifully: pesto, potatoes, and green beans. Based on the classic Genoese pasta dish Trenette al Pesto, which combines small red potatoes, thin green beans, basil-pine nut pesto, and a fettuccine-like strand pasta called trenette, I amped up the amount of potatoes, and got rid of the pasta. I added the lemon to give it the zing you expect from a good potato salad, and here you have the delicious results.

This is quite possibly going to become one of my new favorite summertime side dishes.

Ingredients for Baby New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Ingredients for Baby New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Baby New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

    Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs very small red or gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb thin green beans, trimmed
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup your favorite good-quality fresh basil pesto
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or chopped, for garnish
    Instructions:
  1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cool water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool completely, then cut them in half.
  2. Prep the potatoes. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Prep the potatoes. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
  3. Meanwhile, bring another saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp salt, then add the green beans. Cook until crisp-tender, then drain in a colander. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  4. Prep the green beans. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Prep the green beans. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
  5. Put the potatoes and green beans into a large serving bowl. In another bowl, stir together the lemon zest and juice, pesto, and vinegar. Pour over the potato mixture and stir to coat evenly. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (You can make this up to this point up to 1 day ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding.)
  6. Pour the Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette over the potatoes and green beans and stir to coat evenly. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Pour the Lemon-Basil Pesto Vinaigrette over the potatoes and green beans and stir to coat evenly. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
  7. Garnish with the basil and serve.
  8. Garnish with the basil and serve. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Garnish with the basil and serve. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

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