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Pasta Genovese (with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans)

March 7, 2013

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green BeansPin it!

It’s already March! That means it’s theoretically almost spring!

This past weekend it got up to a summery 76 degrees in Santa Barbara, and I decided I’d post a spring-like pasta dish for this week’s recipe. Then, as the week went on, the temperature proceeded to drop 30 degrees and a dense dark fog settled over the mountains, threatening rain.

Today’s chilly, rainy weather is decidedly less spring-like– and more southern California-“winter”-like– but out of stubbornness (and not having any other recipes ready), I am sticking to my original pasta plan.

Perhaps through sheer force of will– and a suspension of squash-eating– we can lure spring into being a little early this year.

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

This might be the perfect pasta dish for the borderline of winter giving way to spring. It’s green and fresh tasting– especially if you juice up your basil pesto with fresh lemon the way I do– but it’s also hearty and filling. I mean, pasta with potatoes? Talk about redundant. On the other hand, winter’s dwindling days might be the perfect time to tuck into one last big bowl of hearty pasta before salad season really arrives.

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green BeansPin it!

I adapted this recipe from Linda McCartney’s World of Vegetarian Cooking. The dish takes its name from pesto alla genovese, i.e., pesto made with basil (because there are many other kinds!).

Homemade Pesto for Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Curiously, it seems that many English-speaking food bloggers have posted similar recipes under the title “Pasta alla Genovese” (I suppose in some sort of logical amalgam of pasta + pesto alla genovese), whereas nearly every Italian language post with that same title features a different recipe entirely: one for pasta with a tomato-y meat sauce!

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green BeansPin it!

But back to the recipe at hand: the traditional way of serving pesto alla genovese is over pasta, tossed with lightly boiled green beans and potatoes. The bright crunch of the al dente green beans (along with a smattering of pine nuts) complements the other textures, though any other seasonal green would work nicely here as well.

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

You might not be able to sense the approach of spring just yet, especially if you’ve been, say, buried by a blizzard in the past week or two… but at least you can make yourself some pasta genovese to remind you that before long the shift of the seasons will bring warmer weather, late evening sunlight, and a bounty of farmer’s market basil.

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Pasta Genovese
(with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans)

(Roughly adapted from Linda McCartney’s World of Vegetarian Cooking.)

(Serves 6-8)

~ 1 lb. potatoes (new/red or Dutch yellow potatoes), unpeeled, and roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
~ ¾-1 lb. green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite-size lengths
~ 1 lb. pasta; best with short pastas like gemelli or fusilli (pictured)
~ ¾-1 cup of lemony Pesto alla Genovese (one recipe’s worth of this Basic Basil Pesto)
~ freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
~ ½ cup pine nuts
~ cherry tomatoes
~ crumbled feta cheese
~ wilted spinach or kale

Green Beans for Pasta Genovese

How to make it:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, optionally with a pinch of salt. Boil the chopped potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Scoop the cooked potatoes out with a strainer in order to use the same boiling water to cook the green beans; strain the potatoes and set aside. In the same pot of boiling water, blanch the chopped green beans for 3-4 minutes before draining them. Run some cold water over the cooked green beans to stop them from cooking and to keep their al dente crunch.

Potatoes for Pasta Genovese

2. While the potatoes and green beans are boiling, make the pesto. (Use a food processor to blend 1-2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp. pine nuts, and a pinch of salt until finely chopped. Add 3 cups basil– loosely packed with stems removed– and several Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and blend. Then gradually blend in ⅓ cup olive oil, and finally ¼ cup grated Parmesan.) Set aside.

3. Bring a new large pot of lightly salted water to a boil (or use the same water from step #1, but I like to start fresh for this step). Boil the pasta, according to package instructions, until just al dente. Strain, reserving up to ⅓ cup of the pasta cooking water (simply place a heat-proof glass measuring cup or similar container in the sink below/beside the colander you use to strain your pasta).

4. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl or serving dish. Add half the pesto and up to ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. This liquid will help the pesto better coat the pasta, and the pasta will absorb the extra liquid (especially if only cooked to an al dente texture). Then add the potatoes, green beans, and the rest of the pesto, and stir until all ingredients are well coated.

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green BeansPasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

5. Optionally stir in pine nuts, and serve warm (or at room temperature) with fresh Parmesan grated over the top. The leftovers are great served with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, and I imagine adding wilted spinach or kale to this dish would also work nicely.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Pasta Genovese with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta CheesePin it!

Pasta Genovese with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green BeansPin it!

Related recipe posts:
> Avocado Lemon Pesto (Vegan)
> South Indian Green Bean Curry with Potatoes and Shredded Coconut
> Purple Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto

44 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2013 9:39 am

    This pesto dish looks fantastic! I must share a sad confession that I was craving pesto yesterday and went to the grocery store and got a package mix (gasp). It was so underwhelming that I almost wished I didn’t get it! Lesson learned: home made pesto is best!!

  2. March 7, 2013 11:23 am

    This is one of my favorite summer dishes–especially with a big pile of cherry tomatoes, as you suggest. Come on, springtime!

  3. March 7, 2013 11:28 am

    I love this pasta dish! I only made it once (with trofie pasta), and only ate it once in a restaurant, where I got “corrected” by the chef because I wanted to show off my knowledge about it being the true Genovese pasta, and the (Sicilian) chef said “no, this is a dish from Portofino, not Genoa”… but who cares, since it is delicious wherever it comes from?

    • March 7, 2013 12:15 pm

      Right, it’s named after the type of basil, rather than the city, Genoa. But I didn’t know that either, until I did a search for information about the name before writing this post! :)

  4. Fiery Ginger permalink
    March 7, 2013 1:25 pm

    There are few things better than pesto! And, now I am really craving spring so I can make dishes like this all the time. Great pictures!

    • March 10, 2013 1:54 pm

      Thanks! I know, I really felt like making, eating, and posting a spring recipe, despite all weather-related evidence that it wasn’t quite spring yet…

  5. March 7, 2013 1:55 pm

    Pesto and potatoes in pasta looks and sounds especially yummy :)

    Choc Chip Uru

    • March 10, 2013 1:55 pm

      Thanks, Uru! I remember I thought potatoes in pasta was kind of strange the first time I encountered it, but actually it’s hard to go wrong with that :)

  6. March 7, 2013 6:08 pm

    Looks so good! I love pesto-pasta. It’s my “easy-dish” off course it doesn’t look as good as yours but it does the trick ;)

  7. March 7, 2013 8:30 pm

    looks delicious, I love pesto

  8. March 7, 2013 9:31 pm

    Pesto, potatoes, green beans, pine nuts my fave pasta;) I use president’s choice pesto, ca Canadian brand which us Delish. Been thinking abt making my own & your post may have just inspired me allison!!

    • March 10, 2013 1:58 pm

      Yay, I’m glad to hear it, Charu! I’ve never heard of that brand of pesto, but I guess I wouldn’t have, outside of Canada… Anyway, I definitely recommend making your own pesto– that way you can tailor all the flavors to your preferences, and you can make a LOT, too!

  9. March 8, 2013 3:58 am

    Honestly..can you ever go wrong with pesto? No you cannot.

  10. March 8, 2013 11:18 am

    This looks so inviting and really delicious and gave me a good idea for a dish to make for my vegetarian clients next week who want a spring dish… Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. March 8, 2013 11:23 am

    Beautiful salad Allison – nothing like homemade pesto! Thank you!

    • March 10, 2013 1:59 pm

      Thanks, Anne! I completely agree. I can’t stop making homemade pesto, even when it’s not summertime… I probably make it at least once a month.

  12. March 8, 2013 10:28 pm

    Just made pesto for the first time recently and I still have some left in the refrigerator! This recipe is the perfect meal and looks so fresh and healthy!

    • March 10, 2013 2:01 pm

      Yay for your first homemade pesto! It’s wayyy better that way. :)

      I hope you get to try this recipe, but also if you really have a lot of pesto leftover, it’s good to know that it freezes very well (I freeze pesto in ice cube trays, then pop them out the next day into a freezer-safe ziploc bag.)

  13. March 9, 2013 1:17 pm

    This recipe looks mighty tasty! Love your photos, great info as well!

  14. March 11, 2013 9:43 am

    A great mix for a spring salad – made more appealing by your photos. I just love potatoes in salad.

    But about your “chilly” Southern CA weather, no sympathy from us northerners! :-)

  15. March 11, 2013 10:17 am

    Something about green pastas… I just love ’em.

  16. March 11, 2013 5:55 pm

    Ah, so green, so springy! That pesto definitely sounds like it could help lift the gloom a little bit faster. It always seems like winter will last forever… But now that I can almost see the end of the tunnel, I’m so excited for fresh herbs, tender baby vegetables, and now, this pasta. :)

    • March 14, 2013 10:13 am

      Yes, I’m excited for spring, too! It won’t mean that much of a change of weather around here, but I can still notice a difference in the change of food that’s in season & at the farmer’s markets (asparagus & artichokes!). I might have been getting ahead of myself a little with pesto, but it was so green and springy, as you say, that I couldn’t resist. :)

  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook permalink
    March 12, 2013 11:18 am

    We love pesto! I’m thankful that my kids started to LOVE pesto. They weren’t eating last year. I’ve never added potatoes in the pesto pasta before. I must try – I love potatoes…. :D

    • March 14, 2013 10:14 am

      That’s wonderful that your kids love pesto now! It’s definitely a wonderful way to perk up (and green up) so many different dishes, I don’t know what I’d do if I had any pesto-ambivalent people in my household… :) The potato + pesto combination is great, too!

  18. One-Half Hippie permalink
    March 13, 2013 3:53 pm

    Alright, this seriously looks amazing! Such simple ingredients, but such a tasty final product. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. March 13, 2013 10:34 pm

    You read my mind!! These are exactly what I have in my refrigerator now: leftover pesto, green beans and potatoes. And this looks fabulous. Thank you!

  20. March 22, 2013 10:54 pm

    thx to you i’ll never be wasted my money on barilla jarred pesto ala genovese sauce anymore…


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