With our area warming up this spring, I’ve been craving something lighter than the soups and stews Laura and I have been making for so many months. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve just got this itch for pasta, breakfasts and sandwiches. I think the same thing happened to me last year and that’s why I went a little sandwich crazy. It was a good time, so hopefully I’ll do the same this time around.
A while back, Laura found a huge Williams-Sonoma Italian cookbook on Ebay for a really great price. She bought it for me and I’ve been flipping through its pages ever since. The book is tall and the photos are gorgeous. At first, I thought it was out of my range, because of all the props the photographers use in the pictures. The dishes seemed somewhat complex.
The more I read through the ingredients lists and the processes though, the more I realized that the dishes weren’t challenging at all. Actually, they were simple and somewhat, for the lack of a better word, bold. They’re true Italian style in that they are constructed in a broad manner. The dish I’m going to share today is put together in three parts. When I discovered this, I was put at ease. Perhaps if I could combine three simple things, I’d be able to enjoy something like what was in the recipe picture.
This is a good dish. It’s perfect for spring and it’s really simple to prepare. First, I had to make the pesto. That was a no-brainer. Next, I had to cook the beans and the potatoes. Since they were combined in the same pot, this step was even easier then the first. Finally, I had to cook the pasta. Since I used dry pasta from the supermarket, and since I’ve been doing this since I was around 13 years old, I breezed right through.
Once you browse through the ingredient list below, you’ll quickly realize that most of the flavor in this pasta dinner comes from the pesto. Because of this, it’s important for you to taste it and modify it once you’re finished preparing it. If you’re a salt lover, you may want to add a little more than what’s called for.
1 Cup Firmly Packed Basil Leaves
1 Cup Firmly Packed Parsley
5 Tablespoons Pine Nuts or Pecans
1 Clove Garlic
Regular Table Salt
1/2 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Butter, Room Temperature
1/2 Pound New Potatoes, Peeled and Sliced
1/2 Pound Green Beans, Trimmed
1 Pound Dry Linguine
Before I go any further, I thought I’d share the name of the Williams-Sonoma cookbook I pulled this recipe from. The title of the book is Savoring Italy and, as I mentioned above, it’s got some winning recipes inside of it. Also, the photos are gorgeous. If you’re in the mood for Italian cooking and want to go for the best experience possible, I recommend this cookbook. Finally, if you’re interested, the official name of the recipe I used is Trenette al Pesto. Since I used linguine and changed a few other things up, I also modified the title.
Make the Pesto
In a food processor, add the basil, parsley, nuts, garlic and a few pinches of salt. Pulse until everything is broken down well. Then, add in the olive oil and pulse again until the ingredients are mixed.
Next, add the Parmesan cheese and the butter and pulse a few more times until the pesto is consistent. Once that’s done, set the processor aside.
Cook the Beans & Potatoes
Fill a large pot three quarters of the way to the top with water. Place it over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt to it. Bring to a boil.
While that’s boiling, prepare the beans and the potatoes. Trim the ends from the beans and peel and slice the potatoes. Then, add them to a large bowl.
Once the water comes to a boil, add these two ingredients to the pot and let cook for 8 minutes. After they become tender, remove them from the pot using a skimmer. I used my Bellemain strainer. You can see some photos of it here. It’s down towards the bottom of the post. Add the beans and potatoes back into the large bowl.
Cook the Pasta
Using the same water in the same pot the beans and potatoes were in, add the dry linguine. Cook over high heat for about 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Also, while the pasta is cooking, scoop out 1 cup of water from the pot. You’ll need that later on. Once the pasta is finished cooking, strain it in a colander.
At this point, you can add the pasta to the bowl the beans and potatoes are in. Also, add the pesto and combine everything well. You’ll likely need to add some of the reserved water to loosen up the pasta and thin the pesto. Toss well until everything is consistent.
The Final Pasta Dish
See? I told you it was straightforward. This whole dinner didn’t take all that long to put together and we truly enjoyed it. It’s tasty and perfect for the season. Enjoy!