Friday, December 10, 2010

Pesto Potato, Asparagus, and Green Bean Salad

I know I'm late on the band wagon, but I didn't get into pesto until this year. Beautiful, flavorful, bright green pesto. Now, I can't get enough of it. I eat it all the time. I'm surprised my teeth aren't turning green from all the basil.

Now before you say anything about seasonality, because pesto is generally, I know, considered a spring dish, I want to say this: seasonality smeasonality. When I crave something and it's available, I'll take it, even if it is out of season. If you look hard enough and are willing to pay good money for it, you can generally find good produce year-round, even if it is out of season. The only exceptions to this, I've found, are tomatoes and corn. Sometimes it feels impossible to find a good tomato in the fall and winter. But that's for another post. (Still got a tomato craving though? Here's an idea to try if you've got some not-in-their-prime tomatoes that you want to use) And yes, before you try to argue, berries can be found out of season. In fact, for the past week, I've been eating blueberries and blackberries with my yogurt and granola. Delicious!

Anyhow, my apologies for the tangent. The point is, pesto is wonderful and versatile (use it on pasta, potatoes, chicken, green beans, asparagus, grilled zucchini, fresh mozzarella cheese), and you shouldn't put it aside just because winter doesn't feel like the appropriate time for to make this recipe. The bright green color is perfect for the holidays, and if you want a potato dish that doesn't feel heavy with butter and cream, this is a great way to go.

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2-3 pounds small Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes
½ pound green beans
1 pound asparagus
2 garlic cloves
4 large bunches of basil (washed and dried, about 4 ounces?)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp + 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
grated Parmesan cheese to taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt (depending on your taste)
ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until fork tender. Drain, cool, and quarter. Put into a large enough bowl for serving.

Cook the green beans until fully cooked, but still snappy (do not just blanch them, this is the only cooking they'll get). Cut the green beans in half and add to the potatoes.

Cook the asparagus like the beans, then cut in half. If serving to guests, I use only the pretty pointy end. Add to the green beans and potatoes.

To make the pesto, crush and peel the garlic. Put into the bowl of a food processor along with the washed and dried basil leaves (discard the stems). Add in 2 tsp pine nuts. Pulse to combine. Drizzle in the olive oil with the food processor running. Add just enough to get it to an appropriately "sauce-y" consistency. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Pour the pesto over the potatoes and beans and mix. Add in the remaining pine nuts. Add Parmesan cheese to taste.

Serve at room temperature for best flavor. This can be made one day in advance.

Serves 6, as a side.

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