Roasted Pepper Pesto Potato Salad

by Heather on June 8, 2011

Say that title 3 times as fast as you can. I dare you.

When it comes to potato salad I have mixed feelings.  I mean, I like it because it has potatoes and traditionally has mustard and pickles.  I like that.


But, as Jessica said, mayo is of the devil (and thank goodness she inspired the roasting-the-potatoes-part of this salad!). Granted she didn’t really say exactly that and I might be over-exaggerating, but the truth of the matter is that most people make traditional potato salad with WAY too much mayo and not nearly enough mustard.  Or other flavor at all for that matter.


Except for my mom.  I guess 18 years of a kid griping about too much mayo in the potato salad can grate on your nerves enough to put a little less in there.  Who knows.  Or maybe it’s just because everything mom makes is always better.  Probably more like that.

Besides being a mayo-hater, I’m also what you could call a pesto snob.  Some people (read: restaurants) just don’t make it right!  There’s too much oil, not enough cheese, practically no basil, or – horror of horrors – it ends up tasting somewhat like mayo.  GASP!  Trust me, I’ve tasted basil pesto that tastes like someone mixed mayo in there.  No idea how that happens, but it’s enough to force me to make my own.


So.  I made my own.  And I am shocked at how crazy good it was!  I mean, I knew it would be good…you can’t go wrong with good ingredients…but I didn’t realize that I would eat almost 2 pounds of red potato salad on my own because I couldn’t put the fork down.  OK OK fine, I didn’t eat that much.  But judging by the food baby in my tummy last night you would’ve thought it was 10!


  • 2 lbs red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced (you could really use any onion, but Vidalias are magical)
  • 6 mini bell peppers or 2 regular sized bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • salt (about 2 tsp)

Turn your oven on to broil.  Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray and place all of the peppers on it.  Roast the peppers under the broiler for about 10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until the outsides are slightly charred and starting to wrinkle.  Carefully move them onto a plate and let sit.  Reduce the heat to 400.  Mix the potatoes, onion slices, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil and spread evenly on the same pan.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt.  Roast at 400 for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown and the onions caramelize.  Make sure you use a fork to check for doneness!  Meanwhile cut off the tops of the bell peppers and jalapeno, trying to keep as much of the juice as you can (this is what helps us not use so much olive oil.  I also like to keep the skin on because it adds so much flavor).  Make sure you do remove as many seeds as you can, especially with the jalapeno.  Place in a food processor with the walnuts, cheese, garlic, and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Process until thick and smooth, pulsing when you need to.  Place the pesto in the bottom of a bowl and dump the potatoes and onions on top.  Stir until combined!  Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold, but just make sure you serve it!

And whaddaya know, it’s vegan too!  See, mayo-less potato salad is killer with no mayo.  Just ask my still-full stomach.

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