Pesto Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard

For this week’s Sunday Funday, participants were invited to dust off their cookbooks and try a new recipe!  I’ve had a cookbook sitting on my shelf for a couple years that I’ve been meaning to read.

In fact, I inadvertently made a recipe from the book back in March.  At the time, I was frantically googling to find an easy biscuit recipe (biscuits were the bane of my existence - I knew I *should* be able to competently make them, but I couldn’t!)  Then I found a recipe I wanted to try and the blogger actually cited their source (hallelujah! Serious, cite your sources people! It’s not hard and give credit where credit is due) and when I looked at the source, I realized that I had that exact cookbook sitting neglected on my shelf. I used the cookbook recipe and it was amazing and I vowed to read the cookbook and find more awesomesauce.  

And then life happened.  And then I didn’t read the cookbook.

But then Sunday Funday happened and even though life is crazysauce right now I read (or at least skimmed) through the book.  Here’s my review.

The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated Cookbooks)
The Science of Good Cooking: Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen by Cook's Illustrated
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great resource that does get into the science of cooking. The chapters are split up by a scientific concept and explanation, followed by a kitchen experiment. Finally multiple recipes follow with additional information about why each recipe should be scientifically successful.

I learned several new things that I am eager to try such as adding baking soda to dried beans to make them more tender and vodka to pie crust.

The only thing that would have taken this from 4 to 5 stars would be color photos. With black and white photos the caption “the pesto on the left is more vibrant” or “it is clear from the photos that one browned more evenly” had to be taken for granted, because no amount of squinting will make a black and white photo of pesto look more vibrantly green.

View all my reviews

Okay, why skim?  Because a lot of it all already knew either on my own or from a very similar book (The Food Lab, blogged with my Eggs Benedict and Caramelized Onion Rolls).  Nevertheless, there was great information and I did learn a few things and bookmarked many recipes to try.

Ultimately, potato salad won out - which is surprising, because I rarely make potato salad.

However, I was hosting a BBQ at my house and had recently harvested my paltry potatoes (ugh, just a few this year, sadness) and decided that my food spread needed a starch side other than chips.  

So even though I was making Pulled Pork, Apple Pie, and cutting up veggies and watermelon, I decided to add potato salad to the mix!

Since my harvest was so small, I decided to use a mix.  However, the fresh herbs I was able to use from my garden more than made up for the need to use store potatoes (but the were local, so at least there’s that).

I ended up renaming this potato salad, originally “French Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard and Fines Herbs” to pesto potato salad.  “Fines Herbs” refers to a particular set of herbs, whereas I used my own.  I was going to add “fresh herbs” instead of “fines”, but when my guests started raving about the unique “pesto potato salad” I knew I had a new name.

This potato salad is lighter than the mayo varieties but not as aggressive as the vinegar-based recipes.  It is great to serve to a crowd and very popular as well!

Sunday Funday

Diving into Cookbooks!

Recipe Note:

*I used a mix of red potatoes (from the store) and yukon gold potatoes (grown in my garden) for this recipe.

Pesto Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard 

Adapted from The Science of Good Cooking

2 pounds red or yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch slices

Cold water

1 tablespoon salt

1 clove garlic

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoon dijon mustard

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon fresh sage

1 tablespoon fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh chives

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Place the potatoes, salt, and enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch in a saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  

Lower the garlic into the pot with a strainer.  Blanch for 45 seconds, then run under cold water to stop cooking.

Continue cooking the potatoes for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are tender, but still slightly firm.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of potato water.

Place the potatoes in a bowl.

Place the potato water, blanched garlic, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, black pepper, onion powder, and herbs into a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes and stir to coat.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, then serve cold.


  1. I have that book too! It's such a wonderful resource. The potato salad sounds delicious.

  2. That is one lovely potato salad, so different from the usual cream mayo style. Like the different fresh herbs you've used.


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