Pasta with green beans, new potatoes and basil pesto or pesto alla Genovese is an easy and delicious recipe inspired by a traditional Ligurian pasta dish. Also known as pesto pasta Liguria, it is one of the most traditional ways they eat pesto in the Northern Italian region it comes from. The pesto, which is always homemade, and is served with a simple combination of fresh green beans, potatoes and pasta. Not only is it delicious but it is easy and quick to prepare, making it a perfect midweek dinner choice.
It‘s the perfect late summer and early fall recipe, while fresh green beans are in season. New potatoes or any other starchy potato can be used for this pasta with green beans recipe. And depending on the potato type, you can either choose to leave the skin on or peel them after boiling them.
Since pesto consists of nothing more than a few key ingredients, the quality of the ingredients really does matter. Thefore, be sure to select fresh herbs, coarse grained sea salt, and a delicate, buttery tasting Italian olive oil (olive oil made from taggiasca olives is a nice choice). And please don’t skimp on the cheese – go for the real deal – aged Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino. For the best flavor, it should be freshly grated rather than using a store bought pre-grated cheese. Pesto is easy enough to make, but if you’re really in a rush, pick up a pre-made version instead. Just look for fresh pesto over a jarred version so you can maximize the flavor.
Tips for pesto pasta Liguria
For this recipe, the pasta, potatoes and beans can either be cooked in the same pot, or one ingredient at a time before tossing everything together with the basil pesto. This entirely depends on individual choice. Personally, I like to cook the beans, potatoes and pasta separately, as I find it’s easier to get the cooking times right.
The green beans are cooked just a few minutes, so that they still retain their crunch (al dente), nutrients, and that delightful green pop of color! If you prefer green beans with a little less crunch, then simply cook them to the desired doneness. And since new potatoes have such a thin skin there is no need for peeling them. The skin of the potato is where the majority of the dietary fiber and nutrition is found, plus it tastes delicious.
All in all, this is the perfect dish for a weeknight or for any night. It’s easy to put together and is a treat for the taste buds. Best thing is, it also a pleaser for the whole family.
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Pasta with Green Beans, Potatoes and Pesto
- 250 g fresh green beans, trimmed and halved diagonally
- 300 g dried pasta of choice (e.g. penne)
- 300 g new potatoes, scrubbed clean and halved lengthwise or quartered (depending on size)
For the pesto:
- 30 g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 20 g grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 bunches fresh basil (ca. 40 g)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- ground pepper, to taste
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander in the sink and rinse the green beans with cool water to stop the cooking. Drain well.
In the same pot, cook the pasta until al dente, about 9-10 minutes (according to package instructions). Reserve 125 ml of the cooking water, drain and return the pasta to the pot.
Meanwhile, add potatoes to a large pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
While everything is cooking, prepare the pesto. Using a small food processor or immersion blender, pulse together the pesto ingredients until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the pesto, green beans and potatoes to the pot with the pasta. Add a little of the reserved cooking water and toss to combine. If desired, add a little more cooking water until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve into bowls, garnish with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!
- You can also cook the beans and potatoes together and then remove the beans to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Or completely shortcut this recipe and cook the pasta, potatoes, and green beans all in one pot. The starch from the potatoes adds more flavor and helps the pesto stick to the noodles. I prefer to cook my vegetables separately in order to have more control over the cooking times, especially since pasta cooking times can vary depending on the type.
- Replace regular pasta with whole grain pasta to increase your fiber and protein intake. Or try spelt pasta which is a high-fiber, high-protein option, but make sure you buy the whole grain variety.
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