Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil

by on June 14, 2009
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A fat-free pesto dressing of basil and garlic covers red potatoes and green beans with flavor in this light, vegan potato salad.

Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil

Potato salads can be dangerous. I’m not just talking about Aunt Mabel’s mayo-laden concoction sitting outside at the picnic all day, growing an army of bacteria. No, I mean the less immediately life-threatening danger that typical potato salads present to those of us who love, love, love them but don’t love the added fat they normally are bathed in. Just because a salad—potato or otherwise—is vegan doesn’t mean it’s low in fat; most of them depend on a base of oil or vegan mayonnaise for moistness, flavor, and mouthfeel. It’s easy to take in much more fat than is healthy by doing a supposedly healthy thing and “filling up on salad.”

So, what to do? Instead of relying on fat, I’ve been taking advantage of the summer availability of fresh basil to make a potato salad that’s full of flavor but has zero fat.

The flavor comes from the basil, garlic, and lemon juice, and the substitute for the fat is the potatoes themselves. I make a pesto-like dressing in the food processor with the basil and garlic, but instead of using nuts or olive oil, I use a couple of the cooked red potatoes to give the dressing body and a slight creaminess. Lemon juice adds zing, and a little Shiro miso contributes a savory, umami flavor. And if you’re carb-shy, notice that the green beans lighten the glycemic load while adding fiber. I don’t think you’ll find a lighter potato salad than this!
Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil

Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 24 ounces (680 g) small new potatoes
  • 8 ounces (240 g) raw green beans
  • ¼ cup (10 g) basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons light-colored miso (or salt to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • additional lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Scrub potatoes well and cut into bite-size pieces. (Halve very small potatoes and quarter larger ones.) Bring a pot of water to a boil, add potatoes, and cook until just tender but not falling apart (10-20 minutes, depending on size of potatoes). When done, drain and rinse briefly with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the green beans. Trim ends and cut beans into bite-sized pieces, 1 to 1 1/2-inches long. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the green beans, and cook until tender but still bright green and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (Or steam in pressure cooker: place in steamer basket over boiling water, seal cooker, and cook for 3 minutes; use quick release to bring pressure down.) Drain water from beans and immediately plunge them into a bath of ice and water to stop cooking.
  3. To make the dressing, place 2 ounces of the cooked potatoes (60 g) into a small food processor or mini blender. Add basil, lemon juice, garlic, miso, and 1 tablespoon water. Process until creamy, scraping down sides and adding more water if necessary. Drain the green beans and add them to the potatoes in a large serving bowl. Gently fold in the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow flavors to blend.
  4. Before serving, add the sliced red bell pepper. If you like, you can roast the strips of pepper briefly under a broiler to soften and sweeten their flavor. Taste for seasoning and add additional fresh lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground pepper as needed.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 112 Fat: less than 1g Protein: 3.5

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A fat-free pesto dressing of basil and garlic coats red potatoes and green beans in flavor in this light, vegan potato salad.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly August 21, 2009 at 3:50 am

I made this last night for dinner. I have yet to find miso here (just moved to Austria) so I cheated and put in a tablespoon of canola oil. I also don't have a blender yet so I just smashed up the potatoes and garlic with a fork. Best part: I added 1 cup of thawed edamame to punch up the protein and small delicious sprouts which are easy to buy and cheap in Austria. Sliced walnuts would have been a nice add too.

Thank you Susan for all you do.


2 Mansi September 3, 2009 at 3:33 am

This looks fab…your blog is amazing..been through some recipes and they look great.


3 Mari May 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Made this over the weekend and loved it! Didn’t have Miso so used Bouillon instead and I added some chopped celery and cucumber as well to it. Thanks! : )


4 Liz June 3, 2010 at 10:57 am

This is a great recipe! Last week, my Dad gave me green beans from his garden, and I had some potatoes I needed to use. I found this recipe using your recipe finder. Perfect! I’m always looking for recipes that my husband and I can take to work for lunch, and this worked out great. I had some leftover, so I served it with “grill-worthy veggie burgers” from No Meat Athlete (http://www.nomeatathlete.com/cookout-veggie-burgers/). Yummy! Thanks for all the great recipes and tips, Susan! My husband and I became vegans 3 months ago, and I would be lost without your blog! I’ve made lots of your recipes and found other food blogs through your links. You’re a life saver!


5 Intentional Tarts June 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

This salad looks beautiful! I will be trying it soon. Your recipes are always awesome. Thank you so much for sharing!


6 Bex June 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Made this for the first time tonight. Great recipe, but I think next time I’m going to use roasted garlic instead of the raw. Ingenious idea using the potatoes in the dressing also.


7 Crystal July 14, 2010 at 4:16 am

I made this for a potluck last summer when I didn’t want to make a traditional mayonnaise salad, and I LOVED it. I bookmarked the page and came across it today. I printed it out because I know I’ll want to make it many more times!


8 Kellie July 25, 2010 at 7:11 am

This was delicious! We had both new potatoes and green beans from our CSA that needed to be used so I went searching for a recipe. My Dad actually took second helpings. Only AFTER he gobbled it up did I tell him the recipe was from a fat free vegan blog. He shrugged and cleaned his plate. Thanks!


9 Ms_min August 28, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Wow! That dressing is a winner–best no fat pesto I’ve ever had. My teenage kids were pleaaed as well. Thanks, Susan!


10 Kathryn May 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Oh my goodness so good. I didn’t have miso so I used salt and it was just fine, but I bet the miso is amazing. My dressing was bright basil green. Delish.


11 Sue June 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Hi Susan,
I am a new vegan, 3 months now, and have recently found your blog. I have made and enjoyed quite a few of your recipes and have enjoyed them all…especially the black bean pineapple stew and the international quinoa salad. Tonight I made the potato-green bean salad w/lemon and basil and it was by far the most delicious potato salad I have ever made.

Thank you!


12 Lizabet June 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

I appreciate you so much!! Your recipes are a mainstay for me and my husband. Seldom have to stress about what’s for dinner.


13 susielol June 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Made this today for my husband and I. So yummy! Genius idea using the potato as the dressing base. We finally made the jump to eliminated oil from our diets and this is the first recipe I have made from your blog 🙂 Thank you! You are appreciated! 🙂


14 Sara @ Veggies For Real June 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Hi Susan!,
I just made a potato and bean salad using your blended potato trick and it turned out wonderfully (http://veggiesforreal.blogspot.com/2011/06/lower-fat-three-bean-and-potato-salad.html)! I used vinegar instead of lemon juice, a combination of miso and salt, parsley instead of basil and 2 cloves of garlic. I couldn’t help myself from using a bit of oil, but it was less than half of what I would’ve used for a salad that size. Thanks for the great trick!


15 Joy July 6, 2011 at 10:17 am

I made this for 4th of July but used cilantro instead of basil. It was extremely fresh and fantastic and I had absolutely no leftovers.


16 jen August 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm

made this over the weekend and it was delicious! i didn’t have a food processor so i just mashed the dressing ingredients in a bowl and it worked fine. also, i substituted water for some olive oil. i’m not the biggest fan of red bell pepper, so i threw in some shaved radish for the color and it gave a nice spicy crunch. very flavorful salad, thank you for sharing! 🙂


17 rita August 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

This was delicious! creamy and spicy. Thanks so much for this Susan V.


18 lea November 16, 2011 at 7:37 am

Made this last night and it is the BEST potatoe salad of all time! Using the potatoes in the dressing is such a great idea. I also loved the addition of miso – healthy and delicious. Only change I will make next time is to double the recipe LOL… Thanks Susan!


19 Susan Voisin November 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

You’re welcome! So glad you liked it!


20 Diane Hughes February 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Just found the Potato Green Bean Salad w/ lemon and basil. What a fantastic no oil pesto. It would be great on pasta or as a sauce with innumerable veggies. Other herbs would work too! Parsely pesto, cilantro pesto. Thank you. Pesto is back in my life. (Used extra garlic and I love the bite in the pesto.)


21 Shelley August 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I just finished making this and cannot wait to dive in. Thank you for such an easy, delicious NON-FAT potato salad. 🙂


22 Shelley August 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

forgot to add that I used salt instead of the miso (was all out) and Red Gold potatoes from my CSA. They’re gorgeous.


23 Nicole June 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

What a wonderful idea. I was just in the kitchen wanting not to add nuts to a dressing but needing to thicken it. I will use this tech. many times I’m sure. Plus going to make this salad soon.

Your the best!


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