I’ve been wanting to share this family recipe with you for a year. In fact, I had taken (lousy) photos and planned to publish this post last summer. But, I had to make the editorial decision to pull it in order to spare you from being blinded by the white light that was glaring off of my potatoes. So today, I give you Italian potato salad with green beans, a beloved Neapolitan side dish that has graced every summer buffet of my life. It’s so good, it deserves a spot at your table, even if there’s no party.
Unlike American potato salad, there’s no mayo here. Instead, oil, vinegar and seasonings coat the red skin potatoes, green beans, and red onions, which means this dish holds up very well in the heat and can stay at room temperature for several hours. I always include the red onions in my potato salad, but Mom often makes hers without them. (If you love red onions like I do, don’t skip them!) And, if you can get your hands on fresh basil to add (I bought a small plant at the grocery store), it’ll rock your world. Yum!!!
Here are a few tips from Mom 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.
So, there you have it. We absolutely love this Italian potato salad, with or without the green beans (scale back the vinaigrette ingredients a bit if you skip the veggies.) But Mom always includes the green beans in hers, because…wait for it…
“This is how we do it in Naples.”
(Recipe Source: Method slightly adapted from Mom, who learned how to make this from Nonna. I had to figure out the amounts for the ingredients, since nothing was written down.)
- 3 pounds red skin potatoes (around 8 medium potatoes)
- salted water for cooking the potatoes
- 1 pound frozen whole green beans (or use fresh)
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil (divided use)
- 5 tablespoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 or more fresh basil leaves (to taste)
- Scrub 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 and cover. Cook the potatoes for 20-25 minutes, checking on any smaller ones to see if they are done sooner 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 your frozen green beans 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 1/3 cup. Set it aside.
- Carefully remove 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 1/2 inches long.
- Place the potatoes in a large serving bowl. Drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of oil and 5 tablespoons of vinegar. Add the red onion, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Gently toss the potatoes with two spoons to mix. Add the green beans to the bowl. Stack a couple 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 three days.