Pesto Potatoes


Last week I purchased some “live basil” from Whole Foods. The basil is packaged like fresh flowers, in  a cellophane sleeve. But the basil still has its roots, so the directions are not to refrigerate. Instead, they say to keep the basil fresh, add water to cover the roots. I did this and the basil is still good. Here is a photo of the basil in a vase on my kitchen table, roots intact. Maybe I can plant it!

The back of the sleeve in which the basil was packaged gives these serving ideas: Finely chop fresh basil and sprinkle over roasted chicken, broiled fish & seafood. Add basil to scrambled eggs, omelets & egg salad. Toss basil in green salads, potato salad or your favorite pasta salad. Add basil to fresh salsa, chutneys, and relishes.


Utensils: Cutting board & knife, pot and steamer, baking tray, serving bowl or platter, food processor or blender
Prep. Time: & Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Category: Vegan & Gluten free

Green Note: I put dabs of pesto on the potatoes. You can also toss the potatoes with pesto, especially if you serve it as chilled potato salad.

Ingredients

1/4 cup pine nuts (soaked in warm water-optional step)
4-6 organic red-skinned potatoes (scrubbed and cut into chunks)
2 1/2 cups basil & baby arugula leaves (or any other green of your choice, ex. parsley), stems removed & rinsed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil (save one tsp. for oiling the baking pan)
Salt & pepper, optional (If you add parmesan cheese, no salt needed)
Sprouts or parsley for garnish, optional

Directions

1. If you are soaking the pine nuts for easier blending, do that first in enough warm water to cover. Drain after 10 minutes.
2. Put steam water in a large pot with a steamer basket. Turn on high. Scrub and cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. (I leave the skins on so I use organic potatoes.) Place in steamer. Turn heat to medium-high and steam for about 15 minutes, making sure you don’t use up all the water. (If so, add more.).
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the potatoes are steaming, the oven will reach the correct temperature.
4. During this 15 minutes, make the pesto. Place strained pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil in the blender first and buzz on high for a few second to get the nuts crushed & garlic pulverized. Add basil & arugula and blend until smooth, adding a dash of salt & pepper, if you wish.
5. When the potatoes have cooked 15 minutes, they still should be a little firm. (If you cut them very small, reduce steaming time to 10 minutes.) You can also oil the cookie sheet at this time.
6. The preheated oven will have reached 400 degrees F. by now, so place the par-cooked potatoes on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges begin to turn crispy, turning once or twice. (For extra crispy, put the potatoes on broil for the last 2 minutes, but keep an eye on them, for they burn quickly on broil.)
7. Place the browned potatoes on a serving platter or in an attractive bowl and top with pesto or toss with pesto. Garnish with sprouts or parsley, if you wish. Can also be served chilled.

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on what your entree is.
Note: If you buy pesto, you can eliminate the blending step, but the potatoes will still take 10-15 minutes to steam and 15 minutes in the oven. If you do eliminate the pesto making, you can use that time to set the table & make a salad to add to your entree.



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