I could pretty much live off of potato salad, especially when there are so many different varieties out there to choose from. I’m leaning heavily on potatoes lately because they’re filling and cheap, so I whipped up a quick budget-friendly parsley pesto to turn my potatoes into a creamy and vibrant Pesto Potato Salad. Bonus, we roasted up the leftover potatoes the next day and they turned into a deliciously crispy side dish for dinner! (More on that below.)
Originally posted 3-30-3014, updated 7-16-2022.
Budget-Friendly Homemade Pesto
To keep this recipe affordable AND super flavorful, I made my own homemade parsley pesto. Parsley is a fraction of the price of fresh basil, and I skipped the pinenuts to make it even more affordable. Even without basil or pinenuts, this pesto is super flavorful and the most beautiful vibrant green color you’ve ever seen. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget and want to add some other nuts, you can try adding some walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds.
What Type of Potatoes to Use
Because I made such big budget cuts with my pesto, I decided to splurge a little and go with baby gold potatoes. These cute little potatoes are tender and smooth, and hold their shape well, making for a very pretty potato salad. That being said, you can swap in virtually any type of potato, so go with whatever variety fits your budget. If you’re using a larger variety potato, just cut them into smaller pieces before boiling so the cook time doesn’t increase too much.
Make it Creamy or Not
The original version of this recipe was just roasted potatoes drenched in the parsley pesto itself, but this time I wanted to go for a slightly more creamy and moist potato salad. So I boiled the potatoes rather than roasting them and I mixed a little mayonnaise into the pesto to make a creamy-pesto dressing. But the mayo is totally optional! If you want to do the pesto on its own, this salad will still be amazing and fully flavored.
Repurpose the Leftovers!
We had a little fun with the leftovers of this potato salad. We smashed the potatoes on a lined baking sheet and roasted at 400ºF for 20-30 minutes, or until they were deliciously crispy on the edges. That mayo-pesto combo made the potatoes super crispy and the flavor was just SU-PERB.
Pesto Potato Salad
- 1.5 lbs. potatoes ($3.65)
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley ($0.70)
- 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.36)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.04)
- 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise ($0.15)
- Add the potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Add about a tablespoon of salt to the water, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
- Boil the potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork (the total time will depend on the size of your potatoes). Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.
- While the potatoes are boiling, make the pesto. Add the parsley, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients form a slightly chunky paste.
- Taste the pesto and adjust the salt or lemon to your liking, keeping in mind that the flavor will mellow some once the mayonnaise is added and the pesto is mixed with the potatoes, so you want it to be strongly flavored.
- Stir the mayonnaise into the pesto to create the creamy pesto dressing.
- Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, slice them in half (or cut them into 1-inch pieces if using larger potatoes).
- Add the potatoes and dressing to a bowl and stir until the potatoes are well coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.
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How to Make Pesto Potato Salad – Step by Step Photos
Add 1.5 lbs. potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Add a tablespoon of salt to help flavor the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil the potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork (the total time will depend on the size of your potatoes). Drain the cooked potatoes and allow them to cool.
While the potatoes are cooling, make the pesto. Add ½ bunch of parsley to a food processor along with 1 clove of garlic, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, ⅛ tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. You can make a double batch of pesto, if desired, and freeze half!
Pulse the mixture until it forms a slightly chunky paste.
Taste the pesto and adjust the salt or lemon to your liking, keeping in mind that it will mellow a bit with the mayonnaise and once spread once mixed with the potatoes.
Stir 2 Tbsp mayonnaise into the pesto to create a creamy pesto dressing for the potato salad.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half (or cut into 1-inch pieces if using a larger potato).
Add the creamy pesto dressing to the potatoes in a bowl…
And then stir until everything is coated and you’re done! Enjoy your potato salad with any of your summer meals.