Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Toasted Walnuts

I do love potato salad and am always trying something new. This Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Toasted Walnuts was a leap of faith and the results were amazing. Perfect fare for a crowd; no refrigeration required!

Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Toasted Walnuts in a White Dish.

All of my vegetable gardening is in pots. Maybe I thought that would be temporary until I got a handle on so many other things with a new (read grass and rock) yard but I’m now in my 2nd summer going this route and I might just stay the course.

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I have twelve large pots scattered on my patio and in my yard and half of those are dedicated to herbs and tomatoes.

The basil is prolific so I wanted to use up a bunch of it but the challenge for me this week wasn’t just to make pesto but to make something with pesto.

I’ve done pasta and appetizers but as anyone who reads this blog a bit might know; I’m all about checking to see what’s on hand and making something from the food stores I have available.

Basil for Pesto Potato Salad

I went to peek in my pantry and the first thing that caught my eye were some baby red potatoes. I had planned to make this French Potato Salad with Herbs but it only took a moment for me to switch gears and decide to make this Pesto Potato Salad.

When I first started making pesto several years ago, most recipes called for a combination of basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. As much as I love pine nuts I’ve had to leave them on the shelf.

When their prices rose dramatically a couple of years ago I just bet they would never go back down and I was right.

So while I keep a short supply in the freezer I have found that using toasted walnuts makes for a great variation and eliminate an expense that might see me hoard the final product and never want to use it!

Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Toasted Walnuts Served on a White Square Plate

This will never be the prettiest potato salad on the table but if we can see beyond that, it sure is a tasty and unique combination. And those toasted walnuts don’t hurt.

Mind you I said toasted…absolutely why I have grown to love walnuts so much. I use to be a pecan girl through and through but once I started using walnuts and toasting them?

I was hooked; raw vs toasted is like night vs day…and the flavor is so improved that I believe they have taken over the number one spot. Sorry pecans.

I toasted walnuts for the pesto but also made a bunch on the stove sauteed in butter and Parmesan cheese. OK, these could be devoured by the handful and were tough to throw into the mix but the combination together with the potatoes, pesto and red onions? Amazing.

I’m pretty picky about potato salad and this Pesto Potato Salad is really fantastic. Added bonus? No mayonnaise and no fear of spoiling if left out a bit; perfect for summer picnics and barbecues. As a matter of fact this HAS to be served at room temperature; cold olive oil is not conducive to great potato salad.

I worried because it would not be the prettiest kid on the block but don’t let that fool you…there is plenty of heart. Try it, you’ll see!

Love Potato Salad like I do? Here are a couple more of my favorites:

Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Walnuts

A warm salad with the zesty flavor of pesto combined with toasted walnuts. Unique and delicious!
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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Pasta, Potatoes, Rice & Grains
Cuisine American
Servings 6 -8 Servings
Calories 438 kcal


For the Basil Pesto:

  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves loosely packed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Parmesan Walnuts:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups walnut pieces or rough chop walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

For the Potato Salad:

  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • Basil Pesto
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • To Make the Pesto
  • Toast the walnuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until fragrant and golden brown, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.
  • In a food processor, process the walnuts and the garlic until minced.
  • Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and process until finely minced. With processor on, slowly pour the oil down the food chute.
  • Process until well blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • To Make the Parmesan Walnuts
  • Add all ingredients to a skillet and cook on medium heat until the butter and Parmesan have melted and the mixture is just starting to turn brown. Turn out of the skillet onto a piece of foil to cool. Separate if necessary.
  • To Make the Potato Salad
  • Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes until fork tender.
  • Quarter the potatoes and put them in a large bowl with the onions. Add the pesto and toss gently to combine; let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add the olive oil and stir gently; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add 1 cup of the Parmesan walnuts and toss; garnish with the remainder of the nuts.
  • Serve at room temperature.


Nutrition Facts
Pesto Potato Salad with Parmesan Walnuts
Serving Size
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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    1. My new favorite potato salad; as long as I have fresh basil growing like crazy, this is what I’ll be making this summer!

      And thank; I just LOVE it so much!

  1. I do my herbs in pots too but I don’t have anywhere else because the entire back yard is decking or water except for the tiny poop spot for the dog. 🙂

    I LOVE this salad. I can close my eyes and taste those flavors and I can’t wait to make Parmesan walnuts!

  2. Although we have raised beds, we’re growing our tomatoes in pots this year, and it’s working quite well. Easier to water them too, which is a plus. Anyway, I love pesto! And this salad looks delish. Thanks!

    1. I had great luck last year but this year has been more of a struggle. One word. Hail. Poor plants were hit three times so while they look good now my harvest is going to be meager. Still sort of loving the container gardening. Means I don’t have to dig up a ton of this awful clay. Ugh.

    1. I have another recipe too Katie for a ‘French Potato Salad.’ It’s really nothing but olive oil and wine vinegar with fresh herbs. Both are great for those summer get-togethers where the heat might not be a good thing for side dishes with mayo!

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