Crazy Potatoes In Pepita Pesto

I woke up. I checked the temp – 84°. Nice.

I watched Shakespeare In Love for the 73rd time.

I laughed. I cried. I decided to make Crazy Potatoes.

Get thee to a kitchen.

I once read that this dish is called papas locas because the potatoes that form the base are a small light-skinned varietal that grow wild in the hills of some parts of Mexico.

Given that there are no hills sporting crazy potato plants anywhere near me, I selected a sack of Baby Dutches from the wild, wild produce section of my local groSto.

Baby Dutch potatoes are small, slightly golden and perfect for roasting. Plus they’re super cute, which is always a nice bonus.

If I was being tried and true with this pepita pesto, I would have used cilantro. The thing is, though, that I can’t stand cilantro. I’m sorry.

I had to revert to basil and call it a day.

But I worked hard to keep it real and used Manchego cheese and toasted pepitas. Bang.

Toasting pepitas is fun because they pop when you cook them. You’ll know that they’re done when you hear the little pops and when they start to smell so good that you think you might pass out. That’s technical terminology – ‘toast until the pepitas smell so good that you think you might pass out’.

Always learning and keeping it technical on Scarletta Bakes.

O papas locas, papas locas, wherefore art thou, papas locas?

Look at that – you’re in my tummy!

Like, an entire bowl. Who’s living la vida loca now?

So that’s it for today, gentle readers and friends. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Please dull the pain, as I have, with some papas locas and pepita pesto today.

Papas Locas In Pepita Pesto

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs. Baby Dutch potatoes (you may substitute small, light skinned new potatoes)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

For the pesto:
2 c. basil leaves, fresh, packed
1/4 c. pepitas
1/4 c. Manchego cheese, grated
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place pepitas on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes, or until the seeds have browned slightly and begun to pop. Remove and set aside to cool.

Raise oven temperature to 450°.

Slice the potatoes in half length-wise and toss on an unlined baking sheet with the olive oil. Roast the potatoes for 35 minutes, tossing at 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the cooled seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until powdered, approximately 30 seconds. Add the basil,  garlic, olive oil, cheese and salt and process until smooth.

Once the potatoes have roasted through, remove to a paper-towel lined baking sheet to cool slightly and drain. After approximately 5 minutes, toss the potatoes with the pesto in a large bowl and serve immediately.

YIELD:  approximately 6-8 servings


  1. 23


    I share your love for Mexican cuisine and pepitas; we used to eat them, (learned the fine art of hulling them with one’s two front teeth) when we were kids and ate gallons of them.
    I got bummed when I read that roasting them removes their health benefits, darn!
    This pesto and the potatoes look just delicious! In the Lebanese kitchen potatoes are served like this too, except with a cilantro pesto.

    • Meagan says

      Pepitas are simply plain old pumpkin seeds. I find them in the bulk grains and seeds section of my local market. You could easily substitute sunflower seeds, or just stick with pine nuts.

  2. 18


    I am not a huge potato fan but these would be addictive! Cookin’ Canuck and I would love if you linked up this recipe & any 2 other side dishes in this weeks Get Grillin’ event posted on both of our blogs.

  3. 16


    I am ALL about potatoes lately, any and every way, I want to try them all! Given my affection for pesto, I like both cilantro and basil, this sounds amazing!

  4. 12


    Scarletta these potatoes look delicious! I love the idea of using pepitas in pesto in place of the usual same old nuts! I am definately going to use them in pesto soon, as I have a large stash of them! Hope you have a wonderful week!

  5. 10


    Make sure you dont poke your eye out with one of those poping pepitas. Those are awesome by them selves, much less with a potato. I am not a fan of cilantro either. Most people either love it or hate it. Great recipe. I bookmarked to try later.

  6. 3


    You know, I get it that the very definition of pesto means pine nuts (or whatever name people call pine nuts) but I’m going to change that somehow. I’ll call it anti-pesto and it won’t have pine nuts in it, because I can’t eat nuts and I really want to try some of the goodness that pesto creates…like this. So stay tuned, maybe someday soon you’ll see one of my “anti-pesto” dishes. Just remember you saw it here first folk – or not. ;)

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