Why Didn’t I Think of This Before? New Potatoes and Fresh Tomatoes with Pesto

Have you ever decided to cook a couple of things together that turned out to taste so good that you wondered why you had never ever cooked them that way before?

That is what happened to me last night.

I had some delicious tiny new potatoes–the variety is called Carola, and if you can get some, you should try them. When they are tiny–about the size of quail eggs, like these–they boil or steam up creamy and sweet, with papery skins that have a delectable earthy aroma. When they are slightly bigger, they are great roasted–and frankly, I suspect that I could make a different version of this recipe by roasting the potatoes and cherry tomatoes and then tossing them with fresh pesto, and it would be equally amazing in a toasty kind of way rather than a creamy way.

Carola potatoes have become one of my favorite varieties of late–I have been buying them from Rich Tomsu, who also grows my favorite garlic in the world–Extra Hardy German–more on that in a moment. Carolas are also a variety developed in Germany and have a dependably consistently lightly sweet flavor and creamy texture, whether tiny or mature. I buy them throughout their season, from early June through the fall–and use them every which way I can–they are just that good!

As for the tomatoes–it is not really tomato season here in SE Ohio yet–but Star at Shade River Organic Farms starts her plants in greenhouses in the deep winter so she can have cherry tomatoes and slicers by early to mid-June, long before the other farmers here. And let me tell you–her tomatoes are amazing–full-flavored and very juicy–nothing like the crunchy hothouse balls of red styrofoam that masquerade as fresh tomatoes in the grocery store. I’ve been buying two quarts of cherry tomatoes per week for the past couple of weeks and using them in pasta, salads and in grilled cheese sandwiches. Mostly, though, I eat them right out of the bowl where I store them on the countertop–they are my snacks. (You should not ever keep your tomatoes in the fridge–it messes up their flavor. A lot.)

So, here we are–last night I wanted to make a vegetarian entree for myself for dinner–Kat wanted macaroni and cheese again, Zak was out of town and I did not want mac and cheese myself. What to do?

Well, I looked and saw that I had two lovely types of round vegetables roughly the same size–the potatoes and tomatoes (incidentally, these vegetables are related–they are both in the nightshade family–cool stuff, huh?) and ooh–leftover pesto from two days before carefully preserved in the fridge.

Ah, pesto–now we come to the discussion of the lovely garlic you see here. It is Rich Tomsu’s German Extra Hardy variety and look how huge the heads are! They are so pretty–the skins are pearly white with little brushstrokes of violet–Kat has been snagging them off the countertop and carrying them around the house, kissing them since I brought them home on Saturday. This variety of garlic is my favorite–hands down–because it is fragrant and oh, so zingy! The garlic flavor is strong and fiery without being the least bit bitter–in fact, it is quite sweet even before it is roasted. I have been buying Rich’s garlic since we came back to Athens to live and I would say that it is the one garlic I use exclusively in my cooking for about 3/4 of the year. I buy it until he and Ann run out of it, and then I wait with baited breath until their green garlic comes in the spring.

Anyway–if you can get your paws on some of this variety of garlic, preferably locally grown and extremely fresh–give it a try.
This particular batch of huge garlic cloves are so strongly flavored that I could make pesto using only two of the cloves for about three cups of fresh, locally grown basil leaves. That was pretty cool.

It all turned out to be a fantastic, if simple supper. I also made a plain spinach salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette to go with the potatoes and tomatoes, and I was perfectly satisfied.

New Potatoes and Tomatoes with Pesto

8 ounces tiny new potatoes, scrubbed well
5 or 6 large cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
kosher salt to taste


Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until they pierce easily with a fork.

Drain and set pot back on stove on low heat. Add potatoes and shake pot to help evaporate all the water.

Add quartered tomatoes and sprinkle with the cheese. Cook, stirring, until the cheese melts and the tomato skins wrinkle slightly.

Stir in pesto and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes and salt to taste. Toss to combine well and serve immediately.


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  1. Fooey – your pesto link isn’t working. I’ve got a great big bush of basil that needs to be made into some pesto RIGHT NOW before I lose my patience.


    In the meantime, I’ll go wandering around your site and find it myself! Thanks!

    Comment by Liz S — June 24, 2009 #

  2. Oh no! I just noticed you’ve gone to a partial content feed. I *so* love your site. The “nice beef curry” you posted has made me very popular with my friends. 🙂 I am subscribed to your feed Reader; it’s always the first feed I read when you have new posts. I hope you’ll re-consider going back to a full text feed.

    Comment by Susan Shepard — June 24, 2009 #

  3. Liz–I fixed the link–it goes to Elise’s site, “Simply Recipes”–because I have never measured my pesto recipe! I just make it by eye!

    But, in case you want my guestimated version of pesto, here it is:

    2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
    2-5 cloves garlic–this depends on how garlicky your garlic is
    1/2 cup toasted pine nuts–you can leave these out if you want, but I like them included–I don’t like walnuts, though
    1/2-3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    1/3-1/2 cup really good extra virgin olive oil–I tend to use less olive oil than other folks do
    1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper
    salt to taste

    Grind everything up in a food processor until a thick, green paste is formed.

    That’s it!

    Susan–I was getting posts ripped and posted on scraper sites when I had full feed. I may switch back, but I have to think about it. The advantages to my readers my outweigh the pain in the butt to me–we’ll see.

    Comment by Barbara — June 24, 2009 #

  4. I would love to keep my tomatoes on the counter, but being only one person (who nevertheless really likes tomatoes and other soft fruit) I cannot keep them from going bad that way. Do you have any suggestions? I have to admit I get tired of the “fruits are ruined when you put them in the fridge” stuff — I’d rather “ruin” it and still have tasty fruit a few days later than lose it altogether.

    Comment by Alexis — June 24, 2009 #

  5. Thank you so much! That’s pretty much dead on the quantities I ended up working with, as I just pulled off the amount of basil that was not going to hurt the plants and went to town from there. Next time I’m giving up on the blender and doing this in the food processor – it has GOT to be easier. Super tasty meal.

    Comment by Liz S — June 24, 2009 #

  6. Alexis–I have heard from a reader that the “green bags” that you can buy from the TV, online or in stores that supposedly keep vegetables fresher–well, they are said to work really well on soft fruits and especially tomatoes.

    Give it a try–the bags are reusable and they don’t cost that much. I have one in my pantry waiting to be tried out–maybe I will do that this week!

    (I have to admit that I eat the tomatoes so fast that they don’t go bad….they don’t get a chance to!)

    Liz! I am glad you liked it! And yeah, food processors work better for stuff like pesto.

    Comment by Barbara — June 24, 2009 #

  7. This looks so good, but I still can’t bring myself to eat tomatoes. I suspect some day I’ll come around like I did with mushrooms, because tomatoes do smell delicious. 🙂 For now I will try it with the potatoes only.
    Unrelated to this post – I don’t know if you monitor LiveJournal anymore. In case you don’t, I think you’d enjoy this post from food porn because of the garlic tops:

    Comment by Alison — June 25, 2009 #

  8. Barbara:

    Get your blog readers to vote for the Athens Farmers Market! We’re #5 on LocalHarvest’s list!


    Comment by Laura O — June 26, 2009 #

  9. Barbara:

    Get your blog readers to vote for the Athens Farmers Market! We’re #5 on LocalHarvest’s list. The winning market gets $5000!


    Comment by Laura O — June 26, 2009 #

  10. Barbara – I agree with no walnuts in pesto. They seem to taste bitter. I usually use pecans or almonds in mine.

    Comment by Maureen — June 26, 2009 #

  11. This looks like a simple and tasty dish. A friend of mine suggested using peanuts instead of pinenuts in pesto. She says it tastes delicious! I havent tried it but plan to give it a go soon.

    Comment by anushruti — June 27, 2009 #

  12. This does look pretty easy to make. But I am pretty sure it would taste awesome. I will try this one out. I love the idea of potatoes and tomatoes together.

    Comment by Gourmet Mama — June 28, 2009 #

  13. Dear Barbara, As always, enjoyed reading your post. I have eaten Pesto only with noodles, so your preparation seems quite a delicious one for me to try soon. Cheers!

    Comment by Pritya — June 29, 2009 #

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