Pasta with Pesto Genovese is an Italian dish that we all had a million times; delicious, but always some plain pasta and pesto. Nevertheless, I was quite surprised learning that in native Liguria, the dish is typically served with green beans and… potatoes!?!

You really can’t beat homemade pesto, so I had a go based on my go-to recipe.

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • a pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 90g / 3oz basil leaves
  • 30g / 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 125ml / ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Smash the garlic in the pestle and mortar and grind it with the sea salt to a paste and then work in the basil leaves in batches (or blitz it in a food processor).
  2. Then add the pine nuts and grind them too before adding the cheese.
  3. Thin the pesto mixture to the desired consistency by slowly trickling in the olive oil while stirring continuously.
  4. Season to taste with more salt and/or black pepper.


Despite the addition of the beans and potatoes, it is still is a one-pan affair as you just boil them together with the pasta.

  • 300g / 10oz of dried pasta like fusilli (I used radiatore as more of the sauce gets stuck in its ribbed surface)
  • 150g / 5oz baby potatoes (even-sized, quartered)
  • 150g / 5oz green beans or haricots verts (trimmed and halved)
  • 1 serving of home-made pesto
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to serve on the side
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, and boil with the potato cubes together with the pasta by the “al dente” timing instructions on the packet (usually about 12 minutes).
  2. About 8 minutes before the cooking time of the pasta is up, add the green beans (about 5-6 minutes when using haricots verts). You want them tender, not limp.
  3. Reserve 125ml / ½ cup of cooking water before draining the pasta, potatoes, and beans
  4. Return everything to the pot – off the heat – and gently stir in the pesto sauce and half of the reserved cooking water (which is extra starchy from both pasta and potatoes) until the pesto becomes a nice and creamy sauce. If needed, add additional cooking water one tablespoon at the time.


The only tricky thing about this one-pot dish is to get everything cooked at about the same time. Undercooked potatoes are bad, but overcooked pasta and beans are perhaps even worse. However, if you get it right, it tastes great and does add some more textures to this dish that is otherwise devoid of vegetables. Delicious!

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