Pasta, Pesto & Green Beans

Simple sustenance: Pasta, Pesto & Green Beans recipe.


Simple Italian cooking for weeknight suppers can’t get much easier than pasta, pesto & green beans. I find this is a perfect spring-time recipe when you still need comforting carbs, but the green pesto and beans gives it a lighter feel; perfect as the weather improves…

A family-friendly recipe which is meat-free, and full of tasty greenery, classic Genoan pesto really livens the dish, and if you have the time a home-made pesto always tastes so much better than shop bought, and if you have a little extra time, a pestle & mortar (the traditional grinding device that has given pesto its name) and a few basic ingredients, is definitely worth the effort, taking this dish to even greener heights!

This recipe is an amended version of Pasta Alla Genovese which includes potatoes, and is an authentic Italian staple in Genoa. Personally I prefer the potato-less version as to me the pasta is enough for my carbohydrate fix… but you may prefer to add potatoes if you want a purer version of the original recipe – just add the pasta to the potato water part way through cooking …

You will need the following for 4 – but it is really easy to double up for larger groups…

Extra virgin olive oil
16oz dried pasta of choice – I’ve gone for penne as the pesto sticks to its large surface area
A generous pinch of salt
4oz green beans (trimmed but kept whole for texture and a rustic look)
Good quality pesto (or if you have time – homemade pesto)
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated
Freshly ground Black Pepper
&, if you like…1-2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into either in smallish chunks or thin slices to be cooked for 20 minutes before the pasta

How to…

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then add the pasta; remember to add a little olive oil at this stage to prevent sticking, but keep an eye on the time and return to the pan 3 minutes before the instructed end time.
  2. Then add the green beans and cook for another three minutes resulting in the pasta and green beans both being healthily ‘al dente’, and the green beans retaining their fresh green colour.
  3. Drain the pasta and green beans thoroughly into a jug, so that you can keep a little cooking water and then returning the pasta and green beans to the pan add the pesto – as much as you like – and toss the two together. If the mix seems a little dry add a small amount of the left-over cooking water to loosen it up a bit.
  4. Serve immediately by sprinkling over grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  5. Serve with a green salad, if feeling healthy!
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