Wednesday, January 19

Pesto pasta with potatos...........and green beans too

I thought after showing off a picture of my Basil plants like a proud Mama the other day it would be sensible to actually make something with them. I have pondered this dish for a while, always thinking it seemed slightly odd to combine pasta and potato in one meal. But having beans, potato, basil and pasta to hand on an evening when I was more hungry than energetic it was an obvious choice. An given how completely smitten I am with potato pizza I cant believe I thought I might not like this. Completely delish, please make again was the verdict. So I shall, and you should too....

Pesto pasta with potato and green beans

First put a large pot of water on to boil, then make your pesto. Now I know you can buy this everywhere, but seriously, you really have not got four minutes to spare? That's how long it takes, I timed it. And that is the hand version, I refuse to use a blender as I hate trying to clean them, a mortar and pestle I can just swish under the tap....

Into a mortar and pestle put a pinch of salt and half a clove of garlic. Pound the garlic a couple of times and it will disintegrate into the salt. Throw in your basil, I use two-three good handfuls for two people.

Pound away until the juices start to run from the basil's leaves and they start to turn into mush, it really only takes a couple of minutes at most. Throw in nuts, I use pinenuts or walnuts, but try what you like and see. I figure on about 40-50 grams of nuts for this amount of basil, which for me is a small handful, but more or less will not hurt.
Pound the nuts into the basil until they come together into a green thick mass, then stir in a couple of tbsp of good olive oil and a grind of pepper. Lastly add a small handful of Parmesan cheese, taste the seasoning and check the thickness, you want a slightly sloppy paste. Add more oil if necessary. Use straight away or store in a jar with a little oil on top to keep the green colour.

For the pasta you need

6-8 new potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
A handful of green beans, sliced into chunks about the same size as your potato
150 grams spaghetti or linguine pasta
Extra Parmesan cheese

Add plenty of salt to your boiling water, and add the potatoes. Cook for 7 minutes, then add the beans. Cook a further 5 minutes until the potato is cooked through, and the beans are cooked but not mushy. Take out of the water and set aside.
Now add your pasta to the water, and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until cooked to your liking. I like my pasta cooked slightly more than any Italian ever would, but I also put cheese with fish so am probably beyond redemption........
When the pasta is done, add the beans & potatoes back to the water to just heat up again for a couple of seconds, then drain the whole lot and add a couple of tablespoons of pesto to the pot. Stir and add some of the water the pasta was cooked in to slacken the sauce until you are happy with the consistency.
Dish up as tidily as you can onto serving plates and add a good sprinkle of Parmesan and a grind of pepper.

This sounds like a carbo loaders stodgy dream, but it is much lighter than it sounds. Fragrant with basil, you also have textural interest with the crunch of beans, creamy potato (hence the use of waxy new potatoes) and slightly chewy pasta. Have I convinced you?

A word of warning however, this is not sexy date food. You may cover yourself with sauce as I always do eating spaghetti, or worse. As Mr PK so solemnly pointed out, "the leggings and green stained t-shirt combo is already a winner, but it's that stonking bit of basil in your front tooth really does it for me......." Steady tiger......

Finally got Freedom by Jonathan Franzen from the library at lunch, my first grown up book of the year. Check out My Villa Life for a great 2011 reading list. I don't think I will aspire to quite those dizzy heights, I am so tired at the mo I fall asleep after a few pages, but it is good to have ideas for new books to read.


  1. least he still tells you about the basil stuck on the tooth .... !!!

  2. You'd win Ps heart with that combo, more than I can say for my offering of gazpacho this evening!

  3. My boyfriend LOVES potato in pasta - it's a bit starchy for me, but this is certainly one that I will make for him. I also love that you make the pesto without using a food processor... very cool!

  4. Ah men, don't you just love them... at least he told you about the basil instead of waiting until you see it hours later in the bathroom mirror! I think I've seen Nigella do this combo... and remembered thinking it would be too stodgy so I might have to try it... La cigale has lovely basil at the market - there's none in my garden!

    Thanks for the mention of my crazily ambitious reading list - I've ordered Freedom too - don't want to buy it as I think I might not like it enough to own it! A x

  5. this dish sounds so good right now.. thanks for sharing this.


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