Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans features oil and vinegar instead of mayo! Red onions and fresh basil provide the perfect accents. Don't miss this family recipe from Naples! It's vegan and great for potlucks!
Meet the Italian Potato Salad that has graced nearly every summer buffet of my life!
This dish from Naples is so good, it deserves a spot at your table too, even if there's no party. But, it's perfect for your 4th of July menu!
Unlike American potato salad, there's no mayo here. Instead, oil, vinegar and seasonings coat the red skin potatoes, green beans and red onions. It's similar to this bean salad and this fresh tomato salad.
We absolutely love this authentic Italian potato salad, with or without the veggies.
But Mom always includes the green beans in hers, because...wait for it...
"This is how we do it in Naples!"
Potatoes: Red potatoes, which are waxy, work best for potato salad because they keep their shape when boiled and won't fall apart. I don't recommend using starchy potatoes like russets here, because they'll be too mushy.
Green Beans: Use fresh or frozen whole green beans, also known as string beans. If you buy frozen ones or fresh, trimmed ones in a bag, follow the cooking directions on the package. If you buy raw, whole green beans, you'll need to snap the ends off before cooking them.
The potato salad will still be delicious without the green beans, but if you omit them, be sure to scale back the amount of dressing you make.
Red Onions: I always include red onions in my Italian-style potato salad, but Mom often makes hers without them. If you prefer a subtle onion flavor, you can use the green parts of scallions or green onions, which are easier to digest.
Olive Oil: It's best to use a mild-tasting olive oil here. Use one that you like.
Vinegar: White distilled vinegar (affiliate link) works best here because it's mild and refreshing. If you need a substitute, go with apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar.
Basil: Fresh basil here will rock your world! I buy a small plant at the grocery store and keep it on my kitchen windowsill in a bowl of shallow water so I can add a delicious accent to my Italian side dishes and sauces.
How to make Italian potato salad
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Boil, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks.
- Steam or boil the green beans.
- Whisk the oil and vinegar with seasonings for the Italian vinaigrette (or just add each ingredient one at a time to the bowl of potatoes.)
- Gently stir the potatoes and dressing. Then add the green beans, red onions and basil in a serving bowl (affiliate link) and toss with two spoons to combine.
Tips to prevent mushy potatoes
- Boil the potatoes with the skins on, and peel them later.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove cooked potatoes from the pot instead of dumping them in a colander.
- Remove smaller potatoes from the pot as soon as they are done and let the larger ones cook longer.
How to serve it
Italian potato salad with oil and vinegar tastes best at room temperature. You can let it sit out for up to two hours after making it, then cover and refrigerate it.
If you pull the marinated potato salad out of the fridge, try to wait at least 15 minutes before serving it. Toss the potatoes and green beans with two spoons first. I don't recommend microwaving it.
What goes with Italian potato salad
This is a summer staple in our family that goes really well with cookout food like St. Louis ribs, Carolina pulled pork, baked sausage and peppers, and BBQ chicken breasts. It's wonderful with thin chicken breast recipes too.
Frequently asked questions
Boil red potatoes until you can easily stick a fork in them.
For medium red potatoes, once you cover them with water and bring the pot to a boil, simmer them on low, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Check smaller potatoes sooner to see if they're done.
Yes, you can boil potatoes for potato salad up to 24 hours ahead.
After cooking them, drain and pat them dry, then cover and store them in the refrigerator. You can leave the boiled potatoes whole or peel and cut them into chunks before refrigerating them.
More delicious potato dishes
- Mom's Scalloped Potatoes
- Oven-Roasted Potatoes
- Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Crispy Parmesan Potatoes and Onions
Other recipes to try
If you love green beans, don't miss these Italian Green Beans with Tomatoes and these Skillet Green Beans with Bread Crumbs! And if you prefer salads without mayo, you must try this Rotini Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
If you make this Italian Potato Salad recipe, please leave a comment and a rating!
Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans
Potato and Green Bean Salad
- 3 pounds red skin potatoes (around 8 medium potatoes)
- 1 pound whole green beans (fresh or frozen)
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 or more fresh basil leaves (to taste)
- 5 tablespoons white distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Scrub the potatoes clean. Leaving the skins on, place the potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water so that the water is two inches higher than the potatoes. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water. Place the pot on the stove over high heat, covered.
- When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Check on any smaller potatoes sooner to see if they are done and need to be removed from the pot with a slotted spoon. The potatoes are done when you can easily insert a fork into the center.
- While the potatoes are cooking, cook the green beans. Cook frozen green beans or bagged ones in the microwave according to the package instructions. (If using fresh green beans, rinse them and snap off the ends. Boil or steam them until they are cooked to your liking.) Drain and toss them with one teaspoon of olive oil and set them aside.
- Chop up a peeled red onion until you have ⅓ cup. Set it aside.
- Carefully remove the cooked potatoes with a slotted spoon and place them in a single layer on a large platter or sheet pan to cool.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, peel them with a small paring knife and discard the skins. Cut the potatoes in half, then cut those pieces in half. If needed, continue cutting the pieces in half until you have chunks that are about 1 ½ inches long.
- Place the potatoes in a large serving bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients or just add each one to the bowl separately. Use two spoons to gently toss the potatoes with the dressing to mix.
- Add the red onions and green beans to the bowl. Stack a couple of basil leaves at a time and roll them up into a cylinder. Slice them up into ribbons and add them to the bowl. Gently toss everything together to mix. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.
- Serve the potato salad at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers for up to four days.
- Green beans are traditional in this dish from Naples, but the potato salad still will be delicious without them. If you omit the string beans, be sure to scale back the amount of dressing you make.
- You can boil the potatoes a day ahead. After cooking them, drain and pat them dry, then cover and store them in the refrigerator. You can leave the boiled potatoes whole or peel and cut them into chunks before refrigerating them.
(Recipe Source: Method slightly adapted from Mom, who learned how to make this from Nonna. I had to figure out the ingredient amounts, since nothing was written down. Originally published on June 15, 2015 and updated now with additional photos and information.)