A taste of northern Italy in southern England...pasta with pesto, green beans and potatoes.
Pesto was invented in the Ligurian region of Italy, where I visited a few months ago. While there I enjoyed the Ligurian dish trofie pasta with pesto and green beans. I was determined to make it myself, even though trofie pasta, a twisted pasta made with no eggs, isn't easy to come by outside of Italy. I found some gnocchetti sardi pasta which has roughly the same shape, and last night, with two hungry college students to feed, and a package of green beans, I attempted to make Ligurian pesto and pasta.
Most commercial pesto is not vegan, but you can make your own. It's very easy, especially if you have one of those basil pots growing on your windowsill. It took most of the leaves from a rather large plant, which loosely filled up the small bowl of my food processor.
The result, while not as good as the Ligurian version, was perfectly adequate. I suspect eating it on a cool day in England rather than overlooking the harbor at Manarola had something to do with it...the phrase "your mileage may vary" comes to mind, though not for the obvious reason.
Find a sunny patio, and escape to Liguria with this almost-authentic vegan version of a classic. Imagine the waves hitting the harbor if you have to, but the taste isn't far off.
Ligurian Pasta with Pesto and Green Beans
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons vegan parmesan OR nutritional yeast
salt, to taste
few squeezes of lemon juice
Place the basil leaves in a food processor. Whiz until roughly chopped. Add the pine nuts and whiz again, until they form a paste consistency. Pour in a good glug of olive oil, at least a couple of tablespoons, and add the vegan parmesan at the same time. Whiz until combined.
Add a shake or two of salt. (Real parmesan is salty; the vegan version you're using may not contain salt, so be sure to taste.)
Squeeze some lemon on top and let sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Note: you probably would want to start the water boiling first, as you'll need a big pot to hold the pasta, green beans, and potatoes, and it takes a while to get boiling.
about 1/2 lb of a vaguely tubular-shaped pasta
2 cups green beans, cut in half
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Depending on the length of time you need to cook the pasta, add it first (mine needed 16-18 minutes). When there is 10 minutes left, add the green beans and potato chunks.
Let boil, stirring occasionally, until done.
Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the boiling water. Drain into a colander.
Meanwhile, scoop the pesto into a large bowl. Add a little of the reserved water. Pour the pasta, potatoes and green beans into the bowl. Gently stir to combine. Add more of the reserved cooking water until the pesto mixture is evenly distributed.
Serve while warm.