Roasted Potato Salad with Avocado Pesto

I often wonder how many brilliant culinary creations are the result of neglected ingredients for which someone had no other use.  You know what I’m talking about: those Thursday afternoons when you start rummaging through the fridge to make dinner and all you can find are tofu, pumpkin and salad dressing. Or olives, prunes and chickpeas.  Or beets, lime and coconut milk. Or avocado and chocolate.  Maybe beans and chocolate. Or what about eggplant and chocolate? (trust me, it works).

Sometimes, the oddest combinations of ingredients result in some of the most delectable dishes you’ll ever eat.  (Please, someone, tell the HH that this principle doesn’t apply equally when rummaging through the closet the morning before laundry day.  Brown and green striped shirt combined with navy blue corduroys and black dress shoes does not a brilliant ensemble make.).

Today’s recipe was developed due to the overabundance of produce in my back yard–basil and jalapenos, to be exact.  For the first time ever, my basil just refuses to stop growing (it’s sort of like the Jack Nicholson of basil plants). I am not complaining, believe me.  I could eat pesto every day for the next three months and be happy.

[Jalapenos 4-ever.]

The jalapeno plant shooting toward the sky like Jack’s beanstalk* was a bit more of a surprise, however.  Last year’s plant yielded about a dozen jalapenos all season.  This year, I pick a dozen peppers almost daily, and seems the very next time I glance in its direction, the stems have sprouted a dozen more peppers suspended from the branches, swaying like crystal teardrops from a ballroom chandelier.

I love jalapenos (and the über-frugal hausfrau in me loves saving all that money by growing my own even more), but what to do with 24 jalapenos??  (I am going to try these poppers next. The ones I already made, with homemade hemp goat cheese, were so hot I couldn’t feel my lips for an hour after the first bite.  Note to self: remove seeds next time).

[Just look at that creamy avocado-basil action!]

I thought about what to cook. I thought about my burgeoning basil and my proliferating peppers. I thought about the remnants of potato, radish and avocado in my fridge drawers**. I thought about the fact that summer–despite my earnest, protracted entreaties to the Weather Gods and my eardrum-shattering wails of despair ricocheting throughout our house this past weekend when the temperature plummeted to 10C/50 F at night (sorry about that, Girls–I know your ears are delicate)–is on its way out. (Why, oh why can’t I live somewhere where there is no winter? Oh. Right. That would mean moving.).

The cooler temperatures may herald the end of BBQ season, but a good, warm potato salad is never out of place. This recipe combines my love of roasted potato (both white and sweet), my surplus of basil and at least a bit of the jalapeno along with a variation on my original avocado pesto dressing, and–optionally–crumbled tempeh bacon. When gently mixed together, the potato chunks are bathed in the smooth, garlicky pesto dressing, the sweet potato offering a perfect counterpoint to the starchy red-skins.  The whole thing is punctuated by just the right amount of crunch from the radishes and a residual heat from the jalapeno. And if you love tempeh bacon as I do, the crumbles contribute a smoky accent that harmonizes beautifully with the salad’s more prominent flavors.

[Even on Day Two, still delicious. Here sprinkled with tempeh bacon crumbles.]

I just loved this salad. I’ve eaten it four times in the past week, and each time have welcomed it on my plate with good cheer and a hearty appetite. If you like unusual flavor combinations and are looking for a new twist on classic potato salad, I’d highly recommend you give it a try.  If not, just try adding a bit of chocolate and see how it works out. 😉

* That would be the “other” Jacknot Nicholson.

** Nope, not a typo.  If you pop your avocados in the fridge the day before they are perfectly ripe, they will keep for another week in the refrigerator without going bad.  Remove from fridge, bring to room temperature, and voilà–perfectly ripe avo.

I’m sharing this at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Gluten-Free Fridays.

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Last Year at this Time: Baking for George, Brad, Angelina, Ryan and the Gang (peach smoothie) (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Two Years Ago: Green Salad with Beets, Apples and Almond Feta (gluten free; ACD  stage 2 and beyond)

Three Years Ago: Potato Bruschetta (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)

Four Years AgoMock Tuna Salad  (gluten free; ACD maintenance)

© Ricki Heller

[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]



  1. This sounds so delicious Ricki! I am super jealous of your problem of all those jalapenos! They are my favourite things to toss into a dish!

    I’m with you- I could eat pesto everyday too and be completely and totally happy 🙂

  2. This looks really good! I love avocados but have never tried them in pesto. I will definitely be trying this sometime soon 🙂

  3. I love this salad – want a big bowlful for my lunch. I wanted avocados this week but the price just seemed too much – and I don’t eat as much basil as i would like because I begrudge the price – can I have your garden please! – as for living in warm weather all year round – you should live in Melbourne half the year and return to Toronto for summer! Though it mean jetlag as well as moving each year!

    • Wish I could send some avocados to you–they are pretty reasonable here. Basically, my garden is basil and jalapenos, with a bit of mint–so you really don’t want mine! (I’d much prefer a lemon tree). 😉 And yes, you’re right, I SHOULD live in Melbourne!!!

  4. I have been loving avocado lately, so this looks divine! I used to love potato salad with mayo, but I don’t really eat it anymore because I can’t seem to find a mayo without a lot of additives. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  5. But how can you tell when the day before ripeness is?! That’s the part that confuses my brain! 😛

  6. mmm, fabulous. and even better is the avocado tip, i’ll have to try it! i always end up missing that sweet spot by a day…

  7. I added this to my Reader so I can make it as soon as I buy an avocado. The basil in my garden is still growing like gangbusters.

  8. This looks fabulous Ricki! I will definitely be giving this on a try…I love having something super yummy in the fridge that keeps for a couple of days!

  9. It is 95 and hot and gross here today…you should move here, lol! I would take your cooler temps any day 🙂

    This recipe looks like something my mom would love. Unfortunately, we don’t live close enough to one another for me to make it for her, so I will have to forward her the recipe. By the way, your basil plant is making me jealous!


    • Actually, that weather does sound lovely to me. 😉 And don’t be jealous–it took about 7 years of growing basil before I finally hit the jackpot this year–and I still have no idea why!

  10. That’s funny you mentioned the eggplant cookies! I haven’t tried them yet but I was just thinking about them yesterday because my mother-in-law keeps giving us eggplant from her garden and I’m getting sick of making the same thing with it!

    And I totally do the avocado-in-the-fridge thing too. What a lifesaver 🙂

    • I haven’t had those cookies in years (years!!) so I’d love to know how you like them if you give them a try. I have to admit that I’ve since made them with applesauce most of the time. . . too lazy to cook/puree the eggplant! And yes, that trick is a lifesaver. 🙂

  11. This looks fabulous, Ricki. I love the idea of avocado pesto. I must say I’m a little jealous of your basil and pepper plants. My pepper plant just plain disappeared, and my poor basil is suffering from failure-to-thrive syndrome. I’ve been told our PNW climate doesn’t make these plant very happy. Gone are the days of a freezer filled with jalapenos from my garden. I guess I’ll have to stock up at the farmers market!

  12. For some reason, this summer I hit the jackpot with the peppers! And whoah, why didn’t I think of that–FREEZE THEM?! 😉

    • You can just pop them into the freezer, whole, in freezer bags or containers. They seem like fresh peppers when you cut them up (frozen) and add them to dishes. Or you can cut and seed them before freezing on trays, then put them in containers. I always froze mine whole.

  13. Ricki! You have saved my future avocados from the waste bin! I’ve always been so disappointed when they go from not quite ripe to brown so quickly. Thanks for the fridge tip!

    • Glad to be of help, Leah! 🙂 When I first learned about it, it was like a revelation–I can buy 3 or 4 avocados at once, and no waste! Whoo hoo! 😀

  14. Yum! This just might be where the last of my basil ends up!

  15. Wow! This looks phenomenal! That’s so funny about your jalapeño plant! After I planted seeds for one last summer it grew to be about 6″ tall and then stopped. This summer it started growing again and now it’s nearly 3′ tall! Poppers and potato salad sound like great options for using them up. 🙂

  16. I could Pin your entire site. 😉

  17. My gosh, this is gorgeous. I haven’t had an avocado since May, since they’re pretty hard to find in my neck of the woods, so I have tagged this in my brain and on my computer as one of the first recipes I will make when I get my hands on them… in Canada, the land rich in avocado. Ha! You rock, dearest Ricki! Thanks for sharing this gem!

  18. Thank you for linking up with us a gffridays!! I’m so happy you did because I wouldn’t have found this super creative and tasty looking dish! I’m adding you this week as one of my favorite recipes:) And I seriously can’t wait to try it.

  19. Lucas Rimmer says

    Hey Ricki!

    What a beautiful recipe!

    But either I am missing some detail, or there is an error in the olive oil amounts for the salad.

    The ingredients list in the salad section calls for “4 tsp (20 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic.”

    But the instructions direct you to toss each pan of potatoes with “with one Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil,” for a total of 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of oil.

    Am I missing something here, or is there a discrepancy?



    • Lucas, thanks so much for pointing out the discrepancy. I originally used 2 tsp for each type of potato, but then the second round tried a full Tbsp (3 tsp) and liked it better. . . but forgot to change the original amount. I’ve fixed it now. Thank you!

  20. I love roasted potatoes but I never thought of making them into a salad. Potato salads are always so gloopy and, in my opinion, a waste of perfectly good potatoes! But tossing roasted potatoes with your avocado dressing … that sounds heavenly.

  21. Found this via Pinterest and can’t wait to try! Thank you!

  22. Wow, this looks so good! I love that you added radishes…I love radishes! Definitely going to try this! Yum!


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