Pesto Potato Salad Recipe with Cauliflower

Grilled cauliflower lightens up this robust Pesto Potato Salad recipe.

From "Salad Samurai"
September 2014

  • A classic combination of pesto and potatoes is lightened up by adding smoky, grilled cauliflower.
    Photo by Vanessa K. Rees
  • “Salad Samurai” by Terry Hope Romero shows you the way to creating killer salads that are healthy, scrumptious and satisfying.
    Cover courtesy Da Capo Press

Total Hands-On Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Chef and author Terry Hope Romero knows her veggies and she’s back to rescue salads from their bad reputation. Salad Samurai (Da Capo Press, 2014) is a guide to real salad bushido that will eliminate the “side” status with more than 100 vibrant recipes. The following excerpt is for Pesto Potato Salad recipe.

Purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Salad Samurai.

This classic combination of pesto and potatoes is lightened up with irresistible grilled cauliflower. For a more substantial pesto entrée, replace half or all of the cauliflower with pasta, preferably those tight little twists called gemelli.

Pesto Potato Salad Recipe with Cauliflower


Cauliflower Potato Salad
• 1/2 pound cauliflower
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 pound waxy yellow or white potatoes, unpeeled
• 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
• 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or toasted pine nuts

Basil Pesto Dressing
• 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 4 teaspoons olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Remove the thick inner stem from the cauliflower, slice into thick 1-inch slabs. Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Rub the cauliflower with olive oil and arrange the pieces in a single layer in the preheated pan. Grill the cauliflower until charred on the outside and crisp-tender inside, about 4 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board, chop into bite-size pieces, and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Peel and dice the potato into 1/2-inch pieces, transfer to a large saucepan, cover with 4 inches of cold water, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for 6 to 8 minutes, or until almost tender. Stir in the peas and cook another minute. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water, then drain the potatoes and peas and rinse with cold water. Add these vegetables to the cauliflower.

3. In a food processor, pulse together the pesto ingredients plus 2 tablespoons of the potato cooking water until smooth. Spoon onto the vegetables, add the nuts, and combine thoroughly. Cover and chill for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Serve the salad slightly chilled or at room temperature. Garnish each serving with a few nuts.

The Spin: This recipe uses half an average-size head of cauliflower, but you might as well grill an entire head. Pack up the leftover cauliflower and use it in practically any salad in the book, or enjoy hot with a scattering of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Samurai Stylings: Pesto Genovese Salad

Replace the cauliflower with 8 ounces of pasta. Cook as directed on the package in salted water until al dente, drain, and proceed as directed.

More Recipes from Salad Samurai

Tempeh Taco Salad Recipe
Butternut Squash Salad Recipe with Hazelnut and Shiitake Mushrooms
Asparagus Pad Thai Salad Recipe

From Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books. Purchase this book in our store: Salad Samurai.

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