Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Last summer, we had so much basil we didn’t know what to do with it.  We literally couldn’t eat the stuff fast enough.

[basil photo]

This summer, it’s been slim pickin’s.

[bad basil photo]

Last summer, we made fresh pesto all the time, including a massive batch to freeze at the end, which made for some perfect weeknight meals all winter long.  This summer, we didn’t make it once.

Since fall is here and the basil is on its way out, we decided to pilage the plant yesterday and have ourselves one good dinner of our favorite pesto meal: linguine with pesto, potatoes and green beans.

When I tell people about this meal, they’re always surprised at the idea of putting potatoes in a pasta dish.  But it wasn’t one of my dumb ideas; it’s actually a classic Italian dish.  Open any Italian cookbook and you’re almost certain to find it.

[pesto pasta photo]

The recipes all vary a little bit.  Some use pine nuts, some use walnuts; some use parmesan cheese, some include some pecorino.  And proportions are always different.  But none of this matters.  They’re all freaking awesome.

This dish happens to be one of my very favorite recipes for marathon training, because it has a lot of carbohydrates, and if you want (I don’t) you can boost the protein content by using Barilla Plus pasta.  It’s actually the meal Erin and I chose to eat last year for dinner the night before we ran the Baltimore Marathon, even before we were vegetarians.

If you’ve never made fresh pesto and you’ve only had it in restaurants or from a jar, you really owe it to yourself to try it.  I was never much of a pesto fan until I made it myself (with gnocchi, I think).  The fresh, bright flavors in homemade pesto make it a completely different experience from what you get elsewhere.  Do it soon, before the basil has to be shipped in from far away!

Here’s the recipe we used last night.  We made it in a processor, since that approach takes about two minutes.  I’m sure mortar and pestle would be good, just not on a Wednesday.  And again, feel free to adjust the quantities a bit; it’s really not a science.

For a different kind of pesto, check out the arugula-walnut version.

[pesto ingredients]

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients (for the pesto):

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil (I wouldn’t sub canola oil in this one)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts, optionally toasted
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (please, not the green can!)
  • 1 Tbsp milk or cream (I actually used almond milk)
  • salt

To make the pesto: Combine basil, nuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.  Pulse until it’s a coarse paste.  With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil and let it process until the mixture is relatively smooth.  Add grated cheese and process once more to incorporate.  Adjust taste with salt.  Before adding to the pasta, stir in the cream or milk to loosen it a bit.

Ingredients (for the pasta):

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 4 or 5 medium-small boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths
  • 1 pesto recipe, above

Place the potatoes in a large pot (you’ll be using it for the pasta, too) and fill with as much water as you’d use to make pasta.  The potatoes should be covered with a few inches of water.  Generously salt the water, then bring to a boil.  When the potatoes are close to being tender (usually takes around 8-10 minutes), add the green beans and allow them to cook.  When the green beans and potatoes are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a separate bowl.  Cover with foil to keep warm.  Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Place the pasta, potatoes, and green beans in a large bowl.  Mix in the pesto to coat everything.  Serve with more parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.



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  1. We have a boatload of basil too. I have never tried freezing pesto for use later, that is a great idea. I have been wondering how to use it up, thanks for the idea!
    .-= christie, honoring health´s last blog ..Almond Flour Pancakes, Part II =-.

  2. Wow! That basil last year was out of control! Sorry you didn’t have so much luck this year. Was it the weather that made the herb not as abundant?
    .-= Paige (Running Around Normal)´s last blog ..Bachelorette Pad =-.

  3. Looks freaking awesome 🙂 I love that you can play around with all sorts of combos of veggies/pastas/sauces and always end up with something delicious! Hope you guys are having a good one
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Tuesday/Wednesday, Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bread =-.

  4. we had a basil plant one year and it was insane the amount of basil it produced! that is why it kills me to purchase it for such high prices at the market. what a fabulous dish! thanks for sharing!
    .-= janetha´s last blog ..i am so full. =-.

  5. Laura says:

    durnit, now i’m drooling. i’ll be very, very sad when my basil dies off this winter…i’d never liked pesto before this season, but my better half made it for me from scratch and i was hooked.

  6. This looks awesome… AND we have a bunch of basil from our CSA right now! I think this is going on the menu for Friday night, before my 20-miler on Saturday.

  7. your recipes always look so dang good!

  8. Umm, I may have just re-scheduled Friday night dinner plans so that I can stay in and make this pesto. The recipe looks that good! So excited that your marathon is drawing near! Will we be able to track you on race day?
    .-= Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen)´s last blog ..The 700 Calorie Breakfast =-.

    • Hey Megan, that’s a good question. I didn’t even think of it. It’s a very small marathon, with disposable chip timing, so my guess is no. But I’ll look into that and if so I’ll write a post the day before with info. Thanks for asking!

  9. Yum…I love pesto!

    I did have a ton of basil this year and made this recipe:

    Yours looks super easy and delish, though!
    .-= Katy´s last blog ..I Fought the Wall and the Wall Won =-.

  10. I’ve heard that if you keep plucking off the flowering white part on the basil plant that it will keep producing more leaves. Maybe last year Linus was eating them for you?

    • Ha ha! Maybe Linus was! I did a good job plucking for a while but just gave up recently b/c it wasn’t making a huge difference. The whole garden was somewhat lacking this year and we don’t know why. Not a lot of production!

  11. I can totally vouch for this meal…it is fantastic!!!

  12. Agreed. I start store a bunch of pesto in my freezer. I also made some basil limeade, come and check it out.
    .-= Jackie at´s last blog ..Basil Mint Lemonade =-.

  13. Basil seems to be the one herb I struggle to grow… which is a pity because I can eat pesto every day and I even love basil in my smoothies. Needless to say, I buy a lot of basil.
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Book Review: Slow Fat Triathlete =-.

  14. I used this pesto recipe tonight and made three delicious batches of it to freeze! I made a fourth extra batch with lemon-basil, and added the zest and juice from one lemon. I added extra garlic to all of them. Super yummy, thanks for the great formula.

  15. I love anything with pesto in it. It’s so fresh tasting and compliments any dish very well.

    I must try this, thank you for the recipe!

  16. I am not a runner (yet) and I’m definitely getting a late start, at 44. I have grain allergies so my diet is limited. I am thin (5’4″ and 112 lbs.) but absolutely out of shape.

    This is what made me look into your website. I recently started TaeKwonDo with my six children and am hooked. As we go up in rank I noticed that we were not at all fit to perform the challenges. We joined a gym, but I needed some ideas on how to build muscle and get fit with almost no meat in our diet. I hope to cut meat altogether, but slowly. We still eat chicken twice a week or more and fish twice a week.

    As I become more comfortable with nutritional meatless dishes, we’ll leave the meat behind. I want to go back to running-I was in track and field in high school. Not sure if I can do it though as I have a weak heart, as do a few of my children. But I am training, ever so slowly, but I can see a difference already, after 3 weeks. I also feel more confident now that I know how/what to eat/drink pre, during and post workout.

    I made the millet burgers the other day and everyone loved them. Next I’m making lentil burgers. Delish!

    All this to say thank you! Your ideas, your encouragement and your recipes are wonderful. Thank you again. I wish you the best future possible.

  17. Oh, I am definitely trying this one out this week after a big ride!

  18. I just discovered your blog and list of recipes and was very excited, but I have to let you know that your casual use rape to describe harvesting the last of your basil was shocking and hurtful to me. I don’t know if you see comments on older posts or not, but I felt I had to say something and strongly urge you to find wording that does not trivialize the horrific experience that many people experience.

  19. Hi,

    Just stumbled on your website and it looks fantastic 🙂 being a Hindu, I’ve always been a Vegi. I’ve been trying to bulk up and build muscle last year but since I couldn’t find a list of proper meals to eat and tried Soya & Quorn i quickly lost motivation especially Quorn which made me sick. but this website has loads of fantastic recipes.

    please could you add how much protein, carbs, fats each recipe has? I find it difficult because all vegetables has a high amount of carbs which meats don’t have. so don’t know how to eat less carbs and high amounts of protein. I’ve never eaten Mushrooms or Soya, so they still make me a bit stuffy and bloaty.

    could you advise?


  20. Brayden woods says:

    how much protein is in this?

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