Today’s harvest: Green Beans, Walnuts, Basil.
Back when I was in high school, there was a tiny hole-in-the-wall take out Ligurian place that made all sorts of local dishes. Their forte was definitely the pesto pizza and Stracchino focaccia.
Each bite was heaven.
I have always wanted to visit Liguria, and passing in front of that shop made my food fantasies each time more vivid.
I love pesto. If it weren’t so fatty I’d eat it every other day.
Still, all the things contained in pesto are actually really good. You get healthy fats from the nuts and olive oil, good protein without the lactose from the Parmigiano (provided you are using the real stuff that has been aged for 36 months) and all the basil goodness. read more about this fantastic herb here.
When I saw green beans and basil growing in the garden, I somehow started thinking of Liguria, of that shop, and of rich pasta with Pesto. One of Liguria’s most characteristic dishes is pasta with pesto, green beans and potatoes. Here I am skipping the potatoes, because carb-on-carb is really too much, but the result is amazing even without them. Still, feel free to add some boiled potato if you like.
The pesto recipe is from the official Genovese Pesto Consortium (yes, there is one!)
Linguine with Pesto and Green beans
For the Pesto:
25g Basil leaves (a good bunch)
1/4 cup fruity Extra virgin olive oil*,
3 tbsp grated Parmesan (Parmigiano)
1tbsp grated Pecorino (or use only Parmesan)
A handful lightly toasted walnuts, or pine nuts
1 small garlic clove
A pinch of salt
For the Pasta:
8.5 ounces (240g) Long shaped pasta (like Linguine or Tagliolini)
1 handful Coarse salt, for the pasta water
2 tablespoons Reserved starchy pasta water
6 ounces (170g) Green beans, trimmed
(Extra) one medium potato, peeled and diced
(Extra) More Parmesan, for serving
* Pesto is usually as good as the Olive oil that is used, so use the best you can find/afford. And, really…don’t be shy. You need that oil. Fore more tips on pesto, read here.
If making pesto with a blender:
Just add everything to a blender except the oil. Blitz to a coarse paste, and start adding the oil a bit at a time, until desired consistency. You might need more oil.
If using a mortar and pestle:
Pound the garlic and the salr first, then add the basil. ‘Tear’ it rather than pounding it, with a light, circular motion. Once a brilliant liquid exudes from the basil, it is time to add the nuts. Once pounded, add the cheese. Lastly, add the oil, a little at a time, to thin everything out. You might need more oil to cover the pesto and store it in the fridge.
Steam (or lightly boil) the green beans until desired consistency, but they should be quite soft. Check after 8 minutes or so. If you are using the potatoes, boil them as well.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt to it. Cook the pasta according to package directions, and drain, reserving some of the starchy water. If you boiled the green beans, you can boil the pasta in the same pot.
Thin out the pesto with a couple tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Add the beans to the pasta and dress everything, using a bit extra oil if needed. Serve with extra Parmigiano on the side.