Royal Potato Salad

potatopotato3Well, if it’s “Royal” it has to be good. And it is. Very. But we do smirk at the name of the recipe. It comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s (YO) cookbook “Plenty“. If you are unfamiliar with “YO” he is the hottest vegetarian cookbook author of the moment (he isn’t a vegetarian, but he’s rolling- we jokingly call him “the vegetable whisperer”.) And if you sense a bit of intense jealousy suspicion, you are might be right. But good food is good food, and this recipe is a winner. We aren’t proud, if a dish tastes good, we will make it. Often, if the kids like it.

potato5potato4And many of the recipes in the cookbook are true winners. There are also some recipes that require way, WAY, too much work for what you might get- but for the most part we are big fans. And YO does know his flavors. But, like many restaurant chefs, YO will ask you to do work that simply isn’t worth it, but looks/sounds good at the time. Chefs do that sometimes. Chefs are not home cooks, and they just can’t help themselves.

potato6potato7In this case YO asks you to make a very tasty potato salad with a bright pesto sauce and peas, but then adds halved, soft-boiled quail eggs. We like quail eggs, and used them in the recipe, but you can’t tell us that quartered hard-boiled chicken eggs wouldn’t work just as well (maybe better). And after you try to peel a dozen quail eggs, you might agree. But maybe that is what makes the recipe “royal”….whatever. (Actually it is named after Jersey Royal potatoes…but why let the facts get in the way of some good snark?)

potato9potato10As for the rest of the recipe, this is the good stuff. Boiled waxy potatoes with a herbaceous, not too garlicky pesto, peas and soft-boiled eggs is a lovely dish. We did adapt the recipe for more herbs, particularly parsley, in the pesto. But this is where you can play around to fit your tastes. But what you get is a mix of bright, earthy, sweet, herbal and umami flavors along with soft and slightly crunchy textures. If this sounds like a restaurant-quality dish, that’s because it is. We have come to accept that YO is truly a “vegetable whisperer”.

potato11potato13potato14potato15Royal Potato Salad:

(Adapted from “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Notes Before You Start:

You need “waxy” new potato varieties, or Yukon Golds in a pinch. Russets will not work here, as they will fall apart.

You can play with the proportions of parsley and basil in this recipe. If your basil is fresh and flavorful, lead with it. Otherwise go with more parsley, it makes for very good pesto.


(serves 4-6)

  • 10 quail eggs or 4 chicken eggs
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 pounds new or “waxy” potatoes
  • 3/4 cup basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup, about 2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Dash of vinegar
  • 1 bunch (handful) mint leaves, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a boil. Then simmer for 30 seconds to 2 minutes for quail eggs, or 2-3 minutes for chicken eggs, depending on the doneness you prefer. Remove the eggs and place in cold water. Once chilled, peel the eggs and reserve.
  2. Bring a few cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Blanche the peas for 30 seconds then drain and chill under cold water. Set aside.
  3. In a separate pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until done in the center but still holding their shape.
  4. Meanwhile, place the basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor. Pulse until you get a paste. Then add the oil and pulse the food processor until you get a smooth pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour the pesto into a large bowl.
  5. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half as soon as you can handle them (the salad is best made when the potatoes are still warm). Add the potatoes, peas, vinegar and mint to the bowl with the pesto and gently fold until combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning. (YO suggests a lot of black pepper and we agree).
  6. Cut the eggs in half or quarters and then gently fold into the salad. Garnish with a little parsley and/or mint. Serve.

45 thoughts on “Royal Potato Salad

  1. This potato salad is definitely royal. I had to keep my pinky up while I read this post. After I’ve seen this recipe, a potato salad lover like myself, has to go try them!

  2. I think the best potato salads have eggs in them, but the only time I ever really see that is at cookouts. Quail eggs painstakingly peeled might not actually taste better, but the effort might make me think they do!

  3. I’d hit that. I love the greenness of it, though I’m not going to seek out and peel 40 quail eggs. I don’t even think my sous chefs would do that chore for me unless I withheld their allowances or wifi passwords or something.

  4. YO is a bit of an inspiration isn’t he! He does a weekly column in the Guardian newspaper, on Saturday’s, called the new vegetarian, that’s also worth checking out

    • Thanks- we will. He is all the rage these days in the states amongst the gardening crowd (and I guess that would be “our” crowd). But the flavors are good, no doubt.

  5. Saved and I am making this next week. i’ve been looking for an excuse (is one really needed?) to make some pesto since my basil plant is looking quite plentiful right now. Looks awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Not your ordinary potato salad. I don’t think I would have thought about adding peas until I saw the salad here – but why not. Everything tastes good with pesto on it. Looks really good.

  7. I simply can not handle how amazing your food–how do you do that? 🙂 Not just potato salad, but truly spectacular rock star potato salad (that’s what you should call it, I think). Putney Farm is the best!

  8. I practically collect potato salad recipes. I don’t make them all, but I love reading the differences. I don’t think I care about the quail eggs, but the rest of the recipe is really intriguing to me. I think it’s a definite winner. Thank you for introducing me to Yotam. I thought i was up to speed on the topic of vegetarianism…but apparently not! 🙂

  9. This goes on menu next week, love everything about … except the quail eggs- normal eggs will do me fine.
    Will come back with a verdict.

  10. Pingback: SeeKarenFollow: This Week | annumography

  11. It sounds like the potato salad was amazing…did you have any leftovers? I’m wondering if I make this, will the flavors still keep well in the fridge or overnight for a potato salad sandwich?

  12. Pingback: a pompous warm potato salad | myguiltypleasures

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