Via Italia: Pesto Green Beans and Potatoes

Pesto Genovese, or “basil pesto“, hails from the northern region of Italy called Liguria, of which Genova is the capital city.  After my trip there this past summer, I posted many recipes inspired by this region.  One classic Ligurian dish is pasta with potatoes and green beans tossed with pesto.  While pairing potatoes with pasta may seem like carb-overload, it is actually a delicious dish.  However, in an attempt to lighten this dish up a bit, I decided to simply omit the pasta and create a simple vegetable side dish. 

Pesto is something that I make frequently and freeze, whenever my indoor AeroGarden is needing to be harvested or I have extra basil left over from a dish.  I like to freeze it in small batches, either in plastic baggies or small airtight containers.  This makes it easy to defrost just enough to toss together a simple meal or side dish.  It is great on pasta, chicken, fish, or vegetables, like this classic combination of potatoes and green beans. 

The simplest way to create this dish is to boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the green beans right to the same pot.  Drain, and toss with pesto.  You can also make this dish in the oven, although it will take a bit longer.  Simply toss the potatoes and green beans with the pesto, place in a baking dish and roast until everything is tender, about 30 minutes depending on how small you cut the potatoes.  Roasting definitely gives great flavor, and if you have your oven on anyway, you might as well get “double-duty” from it!  What is also great about this dish is that it is just as good at room temperature as it is hot, making it a perfect “do-ahead” recipe. 

Pesto Green Beans and Potatoes

Serves 4

1 1/2  lbs white potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes (peeled if desired)

1/2 lb green beans, ends trimmed

1/4-1/2 cup pesto (recipe below)  

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by a few inches.  Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Simmer until potatoes are just barely fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Add green beans and continue cooking until both potatoes and beans are tender. 

Drain and place in a bowl.  Toss immediately with pesto and serve hot or at room temperature.

For the pesto:

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 large bunch fresh basil, thick stems removed
1-2 small cloves garlic

1 T pine nuts, toasted

3 T grated Parmesan cheese

Olive oil
Salt and pepper

 Wash and thoroughly dry the basil.
In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, pulse the garlic and pine nuts until finely chopped.
Add the basil and process until finely chopped (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times during chopping).
With the blades still running, add the olive oil in a stream through the feed tube until the “pesto” begins to form and easily flows around the bowl.

Remove to a bowl, and mix in Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Set aside.  Note: Press a piece of plastic wrap over pesto so the air does not turn it black.

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5 Responses to “Via Italia: Pesto Green Beans and Potatoes”

  1. paula Says:

    Don’t know if my previous comment went
    to the wrong place, but I enjoyed seeing
    the recipe for green beans and potatoes.
    It brought up old memories of my mother’s
    recipe which she sometimes served cold.

  2. Donna Says:

    I’d love to hear about your aerogarden. How long have you had it? What do you grow in it? Do you recommend it?

  3. Tracy Says:

    Donna, I’m actually working on a post about my AeroGarden and will bump it up in the cue to post Tuesday.
    Paula, Glad to have sparked some memories! I serve it both warm and room temp too. Yummy both ways.
    Thx for reading! 🙂 Tracy

  4. Tracy Says:

    Oops—AeroGarden post will publish on Friday, Feb. 13th. I wanted a Valentine’s cookie recipe (which needs help with a name!) to publish Tuesday. Thx!

  5. Donna Says:

    Thank you – much appreciated. I enjoy your blog and have been visiting for about a month now. I look forward to what you have to say on the 13th.

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