Words by Ellie Krieger, Special To The Washington Post
First, the good news: Potatoes are better for you than you might realize. A medium spud brings more potassium to the table than a medium banana and more vitamin C than a medium tomato, plus a respectable amount of fiber, vitamin B6 and iron. It’s true that potatoes tend to have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause a spike in blood sugar. But that is tempered when eaten in the context of a meal that contains protein and fat; interestingly, once potatoes have cooled after cooking (as they are for a salad), their glycemic index drops to a moderate level – more along the lines of that of a whole grain – because some of the starch in the potato changes to a type called “resistant starch.”
Now for the even better news: The accompanying recipe ups the ante on both the health and flavor fronts, for a potato salad that could hold its own on any superfood list. In it, new red potatoes, which are cooked and cooled skin-on for rustic texture, color and nutrition, are tossed with crisp, sweet bell peppers and dressed with an emerald-green, lemony kale pesto. It coats the potatoes luxuriously in a much more healthful, but still crowd-pleasing, way than with a mayonnaise-based dressing.
While a hint of kale flavor comes through, it is not polarizing – as the leafy green can sometimes be – because its taste is balanced by the sweet, floral notes of the basil leaves and brightened with lemon juice. The result is a fresh new approach to potato salad that gives you every reason to say yes.
Potato Salad With Kale Pesto
8 servings (makes about 6 cups)
This fresh take on potato salad is as brilliantly colorful as it is tasty and healthful. In it new red potatoes, whose skins are left on for rustic texture, color and nutrition, are tossed with crisp, sweet bell peppers and coated luxuriously in an emerald green, lemony kale pesto – a much better for you, but still crowd-pleasing, way to go than a mayonnaise-based dressing.
MAKE AHEAD: The potatoes need to be cooked and cooled at least 2 hours in advance; they can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes, scrubbed (skins on)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small clove garlic
1 cup packed kale leaves
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot and add enough cool water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife or skewer but still have some resistance. (They will continue to cook as they cool.) Drain, and refrigerate until completely cooled.
Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown, shaking the pan frequently to avoid scorching.
Combine the pine nuts and garlic in a mini food processor; pulse until evenly minced. Add the kale, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; process until evenly minced. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process to form a well-blended pesto. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Cut the cooled potatoes into quarters; add to the mixing bowl, along with the yellow and red peppers. Toss to coat evenly before serving.
Feature image: Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post