Best Pesto Potato Salad

Spring is here and my belly wants crisp salads and fragrantly fresh from the garden herbs. Winter is hanging on a bit so this salad is a perfect marriage of comforting potatoes and herby pesto with crisp green beans.

It’s a good pot luck hit too.

Pesto Potato Salad

Smitten Kitchen Recipe – no adaptation

  • 4 pounds small Yukon gold and red-skinned potatoes mixed, halved
  • 1 pound green beans, cut into two-inch segments
  • 1 to 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 bunches of basil (about one ounce each)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Parmesan cheese to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Add a handful of pine nuts and Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. [Alternately, you can swap this step with one cup of prepared pesto, but seriously, I think you’ll be missing out.]

Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.

Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.

Enjoy!

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Burrata in my pasta and salad

I ordered a salad at lunch a while back and was so disappointed. It was a Burrata salad and the chef had added garlic salt to the cheese. The salt and powdery garlic flavor was so over powering, my salad was ruined.

On Sunday, we were shopping for the week’s meals and I saw Burrata. Let’s try this salad again at home.

But salad isn’t my family’s favorite meal (they’ll eat it as a side, more like an after thought or after they’ve eaten all the starches). So, I looked up a recipe and found it can sneak into pasta too.

They liked the pasta better than the salad. But I loved the salad. The creaminess freshness of the cheese was a perfect accompaniment to the juicy mandarins. Try them both.

Burrata Pasta

* Handful of spaghetti (wide noodles would be great too) keep the cooking water
* 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
* 1 ear of corn, kernels cut from cob
* 5 fresh basil leaves, minced finely
* 2 fresh basil leaves, julianned for topping
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
* 1 TBSP olive oil
* 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
* pinch of chili flakes
* Burrata

Cook the pasta in a large pot. Don’t forget to salt the heck out of that water.

While pasta is cooking, mix the salt, breadcrumbs and minced basil. Then add olive oil to the mixture and place in a large non-stick pan and brown. Set aside when it had a nice golden color.

Using the same pan, fry your bacon. Add the corn kernels and cook for about 5 mins.

When pasta is cooked, add them to the bacon and corn pan. Add the chili flakes if you don’t have a little one. If you do, they taste just fine added to individual servings. Add a couple spoons of pasta water and the Parmesan cheese. Once you like the consistency, top it with the Burrata.

Serve with the breadcrumb mixture, chili, basil and Parmesan on the side so people can make the dish to their liking.

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Burrata Salad

* arugula
* mandarins
* blueberries
* basil
* Burrata
* olive oil
*aged balsamic
* pinch of salt

Mix it all together. Add the Burrata. Sprinkle with salt and then add the oil and vinegar.

So refreshing!

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Salad Hugs

Did you know salads are capable of giving hugs? I had no idea either – until I had this salad and every time I’ve eaten it since (which has been a lot).

The roasted jalapeño in the dressing is the key to the warmth. But the richness of the avocado, the refreshing jolts from the mandarins/tangerines and the feistiness of the arugula all add to the excitement of this salad’s hugs.

I love it so much we have had it almost every week since first having it back in March.

What an experience. Try this recipe to get your salad hug today.

The Hugging Salad

* baby arugula
* 2 mandarins or tangerines, peeled and segmented
* 1 avocado, cubed
* a few leaves of mint (or cilantro), sliced thinly
* goat milk feta, half a handful of crumbles

Dressing
* 1/4 cup olive oil or walnut oil
* 1 roasted, deseeded jalapeño, minced
* 1/2 shallot, minced
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 2 TBSP red wine, champagne, or peach vinegar.
* pinch of salt

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Make the dressing in advance so you can put a proper chill on it. The flavors also have a chance to get acquainted and taste even more divine.

To make the dressing, heat the orange juice in a pot over medium high heat until it reduces down to about 2TBSP. It should coat the back of a spoon.

While that’s cooking on the stove, roast your jalapeño. I have a gas stove and simply place it on the burner until it’s charred all over. You can also use your broiler. Once it’s charred, wrap it in some paper towel or a clean cloth to steam a bit. After 10 mins, you can easily peel the pepper. Deseed it then mince it into tiny pieces.

Add all your dressing ingredients together (you might want to reserve some of the jalapeño if you want to control the heat). Whisk until it’s emulsified. Taste for salt. Put it in the fridge.

When ready, assemble all the salad fixings and then dress it with your salad dressing.

Then prepare for a hug!

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Coastal Kale Salad

Warning: this recipe is extremely addictive for “healthy eaters.”

Healthy eater definition: Someone who loves salads, snacks on fruits, has eaten kale and liked it. This does not however mean that they don’t indulge in the double-double every now and again. And this doesn’t mean that they ever skip dessert for any other reason than being too full.

Warning continued: if you don’t care for the greens, you should probably skip to the next non-salad recipe.

PS I have no idea why it’s “coastal”. Our neighborhood grocery store inspired the recipe and that’s what they call it. Ha!

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Coastal Kale Salad

* 1 bunch of dinosaur kale, stems removed and rough cut into ~1 1/2″ pieces.
* 1 handful micro greens or pea shoots
* juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
* 2 – 3 TBSP braggs amino acids
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* a few shakes of chia seeds
* a few shakes of Pepitas or pumpkin seeds no shells
* a few shakes of sunflower seeds no shells
* 1/4 red onion sliced super thin

Mix the wet ingredients in a separate jar. Cover and shake. Add more aminos if it needs more umami.

Mix other ingredients in another bowl. Add the dressing just until the kale looks shiny.

Chill and serve.

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Enjoy!

Orzo Salad

The weather can’t make up its mind. We went from comfort food earlier this week to pasta salad and grilled ribeye last night. And this wonky weather has given the whole family a nasty cold.

I don’t mind either weather type. It’s really this cold that sucks. Who wants a stuffed up nose when all this amazing produce is popping up at the farmers’ markets? I can’t taste a thing!

Well, if you’ll remember from last year’s post about the Summer’s bounty, I live for Sunmer veggies. Heirloom tomatoes kissed by the sun, zucchini and cucumbers and the crunchy, sweet, colorful bells. We haven’t had our first heirloom yet but I couldn’t resist mixing this pasta salad together highlighting the start of our Summer bounty.

And many thanks to my BFF for the salad recipe inspiration years ago during one of our many awesome camping trips. xoxooxox

Orzo Salad
* 1 tomato (if you can get heirloom, do it!), diced
* 1/2 cucumber, diced
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 1 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta, cooled
* 1 handful of pitted kalmata olives, sliced
* 1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 zucchini, cut into 4 spears lengthwise and then sliced thinly
* 6-7 leaves of fresh mint, sliced
* 4 leaves if basil, sliced
* 1 handful of crumbled feta
* glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (to taste, think like you’re dressing a salad and then add from there)
* pinch of salt and pepper

The key to this recipe is the size of all the veggies and adjusting the oil/vinegar/S&P. Hint: the cucumber and red onion should be little dices no bigger than the orzo.

Now that you have carpel tunnel syndrome from chopping so much. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy with a grilled steak for an easy (well besides all the dicing) Summer meal.

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What underground dives inspire

There used to be a set of Asian food stalls underground on Kearny St. many, many years ago. You know, the kind with a central dining area and a bunch of 10 x 10 stalls bordering it? The tables were wobbly and often sticky but the food was great. It might still be there. I might go check to see if it is. But I digress…

In this particular set of restaurants, there were stalls dishing out Vietnamese food, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and I think I remember Indian food stuffs. Anyway, it was a perfect place to go when everyone in the lunch group wanted something different.

I would always get the Vietnamese Noodle salad. The best part about the salad were the “add ons”. Kind of like Jamba Juice power boosts, you could “power boost” your salad with egg rolls, bbq meats, tofu, etc. I chose fried, of course…Egg Rolls. Since we’re no longer in SF, I make the salad at home and its delicious!

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Serves 4

  • 6 handfuls of lettuce (I like to use a combo of butter lettuce and mixed baby greens)
  • 3 persian cucumbers (or 1 hot house cucumber) sliced into 1/8″ medallions
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 10 basil sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 10 mint sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 4 oz maifun rice noodles
  • 4 TBS Tiger Tiger Sweet Chilli dipping sauce or any other sweet chili dipping sauce or make your own
  • 2 TBS hot water (reserved from the noodle water)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 package of egg rolls (small ones are best)

Cook the egg rolls per the packaged instructions. While those are cooking:

Boil water and cook the rice noodles per the instructions on the package. Pull out the noodles and put them into a bowl.

Put the sweet chili sauce into a small bowl and thin with the reserved noodle water. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the noodles and mix with chopsticks or tongs. Put the dressed noodles into the freezer to cool.

Place the lettuce at the bottom of a large bowl. Then the cucumbers. Dress with 1/2 the remaining dressing. Once the noodles are no longer warm, put those on top of the salad.

Serve with the accoutrements on the side: basil, mint, cilantro, lime wedges, remaining dressing and egg rolls that have been cut into 2″ pieces.

Enjoy with some BBQ pork slices and rice. Scrumptious!

Summer’s bounty as a Mediterranean and quinoa salad

The other night was a warm one (I know, it’s Summer and it’s supposed to be warm). Well in our little hometown, we’re usually blanketed in coastal fog June through August which makes it super chilly and wet.
So given the rarity (and desire not to “cook”), our family celebrated the Summer’s bounty with a Mediterranean chopped salad over quinoa. It was scrumptious. In fact, I’m all ready to make it again along with the fried squash blossoms from last night.

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Mediterranean chopped salad

  • 1 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 small summer squash quartered lengthwise and sliced (great for color)
  • 1 medium cucumber diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 handful of black olives sliced
  • A good hunk of Harley Farms feta cheese broken up with your fingers
  • 2 small heirloom tomatoes diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup (or a mini handful) of fresh mint leaves chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Mix first nine ingredients in a bowl.

Put cooked quinoa (I liked it a bit warm but it’s also great cold) into a bowl. Drizzle the quinoa with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dress with the chopped salad. Eat!

Scrump-dilie-umptious!

Note: this can be made a day ahead. But don’t blame me if you can’t keep your paws out of the dish.