I’m biased towards winter vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, so when the hot Indian summer comes around it can be a struggle for me. Most of the seasonal vegetables available (especially in Calcutta) are ones I have never heard of, let alone know how to cook. The Eastern region of India has its own set of leaves and vegetables, most of which are foreign to me. In a quest to find veggies that taste good, are in season and are at least somewhat familiar, I’ve chosen green beans as my current staple. They work particularly well in Asian recipes but also feature in a traditional Ligurian pasta dish – spaghetti with pesto and green beans.
Typically, this recipe for Pasta alla Ligure uses a kind of pasta called trofie and also includes potato. I first discovered this bright, fresh pasta dish while exploring Italian restaurants in New York and had forgotten about it until a few days ago. I was stumped – after spending about ten minutes looking in my fridge for dinner ideas (does anyone else do that?) the idea to add green beans to my pasta occurred to me.
Minus the sprinkling of parmesan on top, this spaghetti with pesto and green beans is vegan. I used whole wheat spaghetti as a base (if you’re curious, read this), fresh basil leaves, enough garlic and lots of pine nuts to make a creamier pesto without using more olive oil or any cheese. Although I often replace pine nuts with almonds or walnuts in pesto, pine nuts tend to work best in a traditional recipe like this one. In India, pine nuts are available in local dry fruit stores as well as online health stores.
This quick and easy spaghetti with pesto and green beans is perfect for a summer meal. It comes together in no time if you have a stock of pesto in your freezer – I make it regularly and love to store some in the freezer for desperate times. Green beans in pasta may seem like an unlikely combination but I can assure you that you won’t come out of this thinking that. I’d love to hear from you, leave me a comment below or get in touch on Instagram @theindiaedition with your thoughts on this classic Italian favorite!
- 100g whole wheat spaghetti
- 60-70g french beans (green beans), cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces (approximately ½ cup)
- 2-3 tbsp parmesan (optional)
- For the pesto:
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Blend the ingredients for the pesto.
- Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When you have about five minutes left for the pasta to be ready, add the green beans in.
- Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
- Toss the pasta and green beans in with the pesto on a low flame. Add one or two tablespoons of the cooking water if necessary. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of parmesan if you like.