With barbecue season now in full force, I’m on the look out for some portable, flavorful dishes that I can contribute to the buffet tables at these get-togethers. Yesterday, some friends had located a space where we could grill outdoors, not an easy thing to find in New York City, and had asked everyone to chip in with desserts and salads. I’d earmarked this recipe for Potato and Green Bean Salad with Arugula Pesto from Michael Nakin‘s recently published cookbook Herbivoracious as one to try out, so this gathering seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it.
I’d first seen this book at the IACP Conference Taste of 5 Boroughs event on the publisher’s table. After flipping through it briefly, I was taken in by all the gorgeous, colorful photos of the tasty-sounding vegetarian dishes that Natkin had created. At Eat, Write, Retreat last month, I had a chance to hear him talk about the book and how the community of people who have followed him and his blog Herbivoracious had helped and inspired him along the way. I also had a chance to taste some of the recipes from his book at an event held in New York by his publishers.
Filled with seasonal ingredients and bursting with lively flavors, this salad turned out to be an ideal accompaniment to the grilled meats my friends had prepared. It’s also relatively simple and quick to prepare. The potatoes are boiled, green beans get a quick blanch, and the components for the pesto can easily be whipped together in the food processor. The vibrant, verdant colors pop on a picnic table laden with other salads, chips, and nibbles.
The arugula gives the pesto a peppery upfront bite. The mint provides lift of freshness while the cheese brings it all together and adds a slightly mellow note to the mix. My only regret was that I didn’t make an extra portion of the pesto to enjoy on other vegetables, maybe even on the shell peas that are also now in season or to spread on toasted bread or to toss with pasta.
I think I would also have carried the cooked potatoes and green beans to the party separately from the pesto and have added that at the last minute, as the color of it started to change from being more preppy kelly green to forest hued after a while. I think that tossing everything together in advance also took a way some of the intense, bright taste of the pesto as a contrast to the creamy potatoes and slightly crisp beans. I opted not to add the extra black pepper and walnut pieces, as I thought that the dish worked well without them.
Everyone at the party seemed to enjoy this dish. It was devoured very quickly, making me realize that I could have probably quadrupled the recipe (I had doubled it.). This is definitely one that I’ll be keeping on hand in my files for upcoming potlucks or even just as a light side dish for a hot summer evening.