Avocado & Basil Pesto Potato Salad (dairy free)

Potato Salad. It appears at nearly every BBQ or Christmas gathering in some form or another.

I have had to think outside the square with creating a Potato Salad my boys would eat as they don’t like mayonnaise.

Thankfully, this one is loved by them all. The ‘creaminess’ that you want in a good potato salad is achieved by using one of my favourite foods – avocado. Add a few other ingredients to it and you have a healthy way of adding flavour to your potatoes without all the nasties that store-bought mayo can have in it.






Crispy pancetta adds a crunchy saltiness that the dish needs, and then the tomatoes are just so yum and add colour too.

This is where you can play around. Use regular old bacon and fresh tomatoes if you prefer. Or leave out the pancetta altogether to make it a vegetarian meal. If you were to do that, I would add some toasted almonds to the top to add the crunch factor.

I think we have all eaten a BAD potato salad before. There are a few really simple rules to follow, no matter what type of potato salad you are making:

  1. Choose the right potato – look for a waxy potato like Desiree, Dutch Cream, Kipfler, Nadine or Nicola. They have less starch than other varieties and hold their shape nicely when they are boiled. There’s nothing worse than a mushy potato salad.
  2. Cook them in cold water that is brought to the boil, rather than adding them to boiling water. Also, be careful not to over cook them. You want them soft to eat but to still hold their shape.
  3. ‘Dress them’ with either a small amount of oil or vinegar when they are warm so they absorb some of that flavour.
  4. Potato Salad is almost always best eaten at room temperature. Cooked potatoes can go very hard once they have been in the fridge too long.

Happy Cooking!






Avocado & Basil Pesto Potato Salad (dairy free)

  • Prep Time: 5m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 25m


  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, (plus 1 tablespoon extra for potatoes)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 kilogram dutch cream potatoes, washed and halved (or left whole if they are baby sized)
  • 100 grams pancetta
  • 150 grams semi-dried tomatoes
  • chopped chives for garnish


  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Over a medium heat, bring to the boil with a lid on. Boil for 12-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft but not mushy. Drain in a colander, and then put the potatoes back in the saucepan. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil or basil-infused olive oil over them. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Place the avocado flesh, basil, almonds, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice in the food processor and process till smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat a non stick frying pan over medium and cook the pancetta until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towel and finally chop.
  4. When almost ready to serve, mix the pesto through the potatoes. I find this easiest to do in the large saucepan.
  5. Place the pesto potatoes in a serving bowl and add the tomatoes, crispy pancetta and chives.

Panzanella Salad

This is the first of a few posts I am going to dedicate to the Christmas season. Whether you need inspiration for a relaxed summer BBQ with friends or a formal Christmas gathering, over the next few weeks I will post some simple and achievable recipes suitable for those occasions. I can’t wait to hear if any of them make it to your menu!

There are many reasons why this is one of my favourite salads.

Firstly, it’s from Tuscany, Italy. A place I dream of visiting one day.  I long to soak up the history, food and culture. I dream of spending a day in an Italian mumma’s kitchen, learning all that I can. I dream of olive groves, foraging for herbs and eating lots and lots of cheese!

The Italians are well known for being wise with their food and never wasting a thing. This salad was born as a way of using up stale bread. Pure genuis, to combine stale bread with some of summers best produce and finest herbs.

Secondly, it is colourful and so pretty on a big white platter. The red, green and white theme make it a perfect Aussie Christmas salad, especially when tomatoes are at their best and full of flavour.

Thirdly, it’s SIMPLE. A little chopping, a little toasting and a quick dressing, this salad is perfect to add to your Christmas menu, which like me, you are probably trying to keep as simple, yet as tasty, as possible.

My version of the Panzanella Salad is based on one I read about in the Quick Smart Cook recipe book, from the ABC delicious magazine.







Panzanella Salad

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 28m


  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, torn into small chunks
  • 50 milliliters extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for the sourdough)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, to give 3/4 cup (plus extra whole leaves for garnish)
  • 600 grams cherry tomatoes, halved (look out for yellow, orange and green tomatoes to make the salad more colourful)
  • 1 large lebanese cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, halved (more if you like olives!)
  • 150 grams fresh buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini, torn into chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Drizzle the torn bread chunks in some olive oil, season with salt and place in a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden and crispy. Set aside.
  4. Combine 50ml olive oil, red wine vinegar and finely chopped basil leaves in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.
  5. Place cut tomatoes, olives, cucumber, toasted bread and mozzarella in a large bowl and pour the dressing over. Mix well with your hands.
  6. Place on a serving platter and garnish with whole fresh basil leaves.