Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
by Susie Heller
45 minutes total time
35 minutes active time
It may seem unusual to combine potatoes with pasta, but this is a classic Ligurian dish. The pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated (with a light film of olive oil poured over the top) for a day or two or frozen, but I like to add the cheese shortly before serving. If the pesto has been stored, just stir the cheese in by hand.
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 cloves peeled garlic
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a small chunk for garnishing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces haricot vert or green beans
8 ounces red skinned potatoes, peeled
8 ounces penne pasta
Bring a pot of water to a boil and make an ice water bath.
Add the basil leaves to the water and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove the basil with a skimmer and plunge into the ice water to chill. After about 1 minute, remove the basil, squeeze dry and roughly chop.
Put the garlic, pine nuts, basil and olive oil in a blender. Blend to combine, but keep some texture to it to the mixture. Add the Parmesan and pulse to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pasta pot, preferably with a strainer insert, of salted water to a boil. Dice the potatoes into a ½-inch dice. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a skimmer, remove the potatoes and set aside.
Cut the beans on the diagonal to the approximate size of the penne pasta. Add the green beans to the water and cook until tender. Remove and set aside. Add the pasta to the water and cook until tender.
Remove and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta.
Put the pasta in a large skillet. Stir in enough pesto to coat (you may have extra pesto), adding small amounts of the pasta water as necessary, to reach the right consistency to coat the pasta. Stir in the beans and potatoes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Spoon into the serving bowls. Using a vegetable peeler, garnish the pasta with shavings of Parmesan cheese.