Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pistachio Pesto Potato Salad

Ahhh, the ever-present summer picnic and BBQ staple - Potato Salad.

I gotta be honest, I feel like I've been blog-free for so long that I've forgotten how to type!  I was so excited to be able to actually participate in this month's Daring Cook's Challenge despite all the craziness.

Boyfriend and I were invited to a BBQ last weekend and it hit me, "OMG, I'M MAKING POTATO SALAD!"  Boyfriend was confused at my excitement, especially since the invite also read, "you bring the booze, we'll provide the food."

I didn't care what the invite said, I was bringing potato salad dammit!

And I knew just what little twist I'd put on it to make it "mine": Pistachio Pesto.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been doing a ton of "pantry cooking" in preparation for what will soon be known as "the move that never happened."  One night, I wanted to make something quick and simple, yet fresh reminiscent of spring, so I threw the only nuts I had (pistachios), some garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil and basil into the food processor and gave it a good whiz.  I tossed the resulting pesto it with capellini, white beans and sauteed swiss chard.  It was AWESOME.

So here goes, my rendition of a healthy potato salad - PISTACHIO PESTO POTATO SALAD (ha! say that 5 times fast!)
Blog-checking lines:Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!
The first thing to do was to make the pesto.  I've made pesto from just about any herb-nut-cheese combination and I gotta admit, they were all pretty amazing.  My love of pistachios might have taken this version to the top o' the pile for me though.

Pistachio Pesto:
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C toasted pistachios
1/4 C grated Parmesan
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 large package of fresh basil
1/2-3/4 C extra virgin olive oil, depending on your tastes
salt and pepper, to taste

1) Add the garlic, pistachios and Parmesan to the food processor and whiz it around to finely chop everything.
2) Add the basil, lemon juice and some of the olive oil, then whiz it around again for a few seconds.
3) With the motor running, slowly pour the remaining olive oil into the processor in a nice stream until the pesto comes together.  Some people like their pesto with lots of olive oil, I prefer mine more "dry"... add and taste until it fits your personal preferences.
4) Add salt and pepper if it needs it and give it one more spin to mix thoroughly.
** Make ahead: You can easily prepare this up to 3 days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, or store it in the freezer for longer.

Potato Salad:
2lbs small potatoes (I used Yukon Golds), chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 C rice wine vinegar (any acid will do, this is what I had on hand)
Pistachio Pesto
2 sweet Italian red peppers
1 C white beans, cooked (or you can used 1 can of drained, rinsed beans)
1 1/4 C nonfat plain Greek yogurt (feel free to add more depending on how "creamy" you like your potato salad)
1/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the potatoes.
2) Roast the red peppers, peel off the charred skins then dice into 1/4" pieces
3) Once the potatoes have cooked to al dente (beware the mushy potato!), drain into a colander and sprinkle with the vinegar.  The potatoes will soak it in, giving them a little flavor and adding some depth to the final dish.  Let the potatoes cool to room temperature before adding the other ingredients.
4) Once the potatoes have cooled, add the remaining ingredients and mix using a spatula, trying not to break up the potatoes too much.
5) Allow the potato salad to rest for a few hours so that the flavors can come together.  If you have time, let it go overnight... it is wayyy better the next day!
With a little chiffonade of basil on top for garnish
We never actually made it to the BBQ (it rained all day... sad), but we grilled up some hamburgers anyway and had a nice indoor picnic while we watched the Bruins pummel the Canucks in an exciting Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Sports.  Burgers.  Potato Salad.  #WINNING

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