Pasta alla ligure con patate e fagiolini.
In the same way that Bolognese sauce is omnipresent in Bologna’s homes and restaurants, basil pesto or pesto Genovese is ubiquitous in Ligurian cuisine. In fact, it’s practically a national symbol in Liguria, the Northern Italian region it comes from. People in Liguria are not only very proud of their pesto, but also quite fanatic about how it should be made and how to serve it. This pesto pasta Liguria with potatoes and green beans recipe is one of the most traditional ways they eat pesto in Liguria. The pesto, which is always homemade, is served with green beans, potatoes and pasta.
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The official basil pesto recipe.
Also like Bolognese in Bologna, basil pesto has an official recipe! This was published by the Genoa Chamber of Commerce and is composed of 7 ingredients; Ligurian basil leaves, Mediterranean pine-nuts, Vessalico garlic cloves, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, coarse sea salt and two types of cheese, aged Parmesan and Pecorino from Sardinia. Of course, most of us have to use locally sourced ingredients such as basil leaves garlic and olive oil. It may also not be possible to find both cheeses. I actually often make it with just Parmesan (but don’t tell anyone from Genoa!).
Pesto Pasta Liguria with potatoes and green beans.
Pasta with pesto can be found in every restaurant in Liguria. The pasta is usually trenette (similar to linguine), trofie or corzetti and is dressed with just pesto and grated cheese or, as in this recipe, with potatoes and green beans as well. Normally just called pesto pasta Liguria with potatoes and green beans (pasta alla ligure con patate e fagiolini) , this dish is also known as pesto avvantaggiato. Most often the pasta, potatoes and beans are cooked in the same pot, sometimes one ingredient at a time, but also all together. Then everything is tossed with basil pesto.
A one-pot recipe.
This pesto pasta Liguria with potatoes and green beans is a very easy dish to make as you only need one cooking pot and the pesto is, of course, made from raw ingredients. Some people recommend salting the cooking water quite heavily. This is because the salt is said to help maintain the bright colour of the beans and keep the potatoes firm!
Whether you cook the pasta, potatoes and green beans together depends on individual choice. However, if using fresh pasta, this definitely needs to be cooked alone or added only 2-3 minutes before the beans and potatoes are ready. I cooked the vegetables and pasta separately, but in the same water, as I find it’s easier to get the cooking times right.
Making the pesto.
Traditionally basil pesto is made with a pestle and mortar. However, you can also use a blender or mini food processor. Alternatively, crush the pine nuts with a pestle and mortar or a hammer and use a blender for the rest. But, mix the cheese in after with a fork or wooden spoon. This gives the pesto a more authentic texture.
I used corzetti pasta medallions for this pesto pasta Liguria recipe. Corzetti, also called croxetti, are an ancient type of pasta dating back to the Middle Ages. The designs on the pasta are created with a wooden mold or stamp. This stamp has two designs engraved on it (one for each face of the pasta medallion). In the past, noble families had their family coat of arms engraved into the stamp! You can read more about this unique pasta on my corzetti or croxetti post.
You can buy dried corzetti or make them yourself (I used dried).There are companies which sell these stamps online such as this company called Florentine Touch . They sell corzetti stamps through Etsy. You can even order your own design! If you can’t find corzetti, trofie or linguine are traditional pasta partners for basil pesto with potatoes and green beans. Alternatively fettuccine or penne work well too.
Let me know if you try this recipe!
Whichever pasta you use, I’m sure you’ll love this typical Ligurian way to eat pasta with pesto. And, if you do try this pesto pasta Liguria with green beans and potatoes, please let me know what you think. You can comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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If you enjoyed this recipe have a look at my favorite Liguria pasta recipes.
Pesto pasta Liguria with potatoes and green beans
- 320 g corzetti pasta or Trofie or trenette
- 120 g fresh green beans
- 120 g potatoes You can use red potatoes. I like new potatoes.
For the pesto
- 4 handfuls fresh basil leaves (preferably young leaves) in Liguria they use Basilico Genovese D.O.P.
- 30 g pine nuts I like to toast mine.
- 50 g Parmesan In Liguria they use aged Parmesan
- 30 g Pecorino from Sardinia
- 1-2 garlic cloves peeled. In Liguria they use garlic from Vessalico
- coarse sea salt for pasta and to taste
- extra virgin olive oil as required
Make the pesto
- If it’s possible, choose medium sized young basil leaves (brighter green). Rinse the leaves under water and dry them with paper towels. Dry fry the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes if you prefer to have them toasted.
Using a pestle and mortar
- Peel the garlic cloves and put them into a mortar with pine nuts. Grind until you have a paste Then add some basil leaves, and a little coarse salt, and 3 tbsp of olive oil.Keep working with the pestle, while continuing to add more basil leaves and olive oil until the pesto is smooth and consistent. Finally, transfer to a bowl and add the cheeses and stir well.
Using a blender or mini food processor
- You can either put all the ingredients in the blender and pulse a few seconds at a time until you have the right consistency. Don’t keep pulsing for too long at once as the blender will heat up and this can spoil the basil. Alternatively, crush the pine nuts in a pestle and mortar or with a hammer. Blend the olive, oil, basil, salt and garlic until you have the right consistency. Add the cheese and crushed pine nuts after. Mix well with a fork or wooden spoon.
Cooking the other ingredients
- Wash the vegetables, then top and tail the green beans and cut them into 2 or 3 pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil, then add the sea salt.
- Either boil the vegetables along with pasta until all are “al dente”, or cook separately.You can cook the beans and potatoes together and then remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. (I did this)
- Finally, cook the pasta al dente in the vegetable water according to the instructions on the packet. Save a cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
- Mix the pesto with the potatoes and green beans in a frying pan over a low heat for a minute or in a bowl. Then add the drained pasta and a little pasta cooking water. Mix everything together carefully and serve with extra grated cheese and some more toasted pine nuts if required.
More pasta recipes you may like
- Asparagus carbonara
- Creamy beef ragu with pesto
- Fresh fava bean pasta
- Ditaloni with purple cauliflower
- Pasta with mortadella and pistachios
- Penne with eggplant and pine nuts
- Radiatori with spinach and stracchino
Annalisa Fran says
This looks like the real traditional Pasta al Pesto recipe! I feel it would be a great topping also for pizza and lasagna 🙂
Thanks Annalisa! Yes this is a very traditional pesto recipe, but as you say pesto is great on pizza or lasagne too. I also like to eat it as a dip or in sandwiches! All the best from Verona. Jacqui
Mayuri Patel says
I wouldn’t tell anyone from Genoa that you used parmesan only if you don’t tell them that sometimes I have to replace the pine nuts with cashew nuts;) A tempting pasta dish and just the right kind for me, vegetarian. I’ve not used potato with pasta as yet…wonder why.
Haha Mayuri don’t worry I won’t tell anyone! I love the sound of using cashew nuts too! Pasta and potato is a good combination and there are quite a few Italian recipes for it. Def worth trying! Happy weekend from Verona! Jacqui
Chef Mireille says
pasta is my fave pasta sauce and this is a perfect combination of ingredients with it
I love pesto too Mireille! It goes so well on many dishes from pasta to pizza! But this traditional way to serve it is, as you say, perfect! Happy weekend from Verona! Jacqui
Sara Welch says
Oh this had my tummy rumbling! I would love some of this right now!
Thanks for your comment Sara! Yes this is really mouth-watering! Such a yummy way to serve pesto and pasta! All the best! Jacqui
Nicole Hood says
Oh my gosh that pasta is beautiful! I love all the veggies in this dish and that pesto looks delish!
Grazie dear Nicole! Corzetti is a fantastic pasta and actually perfect with this traditional combo of pesto, potatoes and beans! Def one to try! Greetings from Verona! Jacqui