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Spaghetti with green beans, potato & pesto (video)

Spaghetti with green beans, potato and pesto.

A recipe of simplicity and freshness – Lucio Galletto shows Maeve O’Mara from SBS TV how to make a proper Ligurian pesto, which is said to be the best, creamiest pesto in Italy. This combination of pesto, potato and green beans with trenette (a long pasta similar to linguine) is a classic dish from the region and here Lucio serves it with spaghetti.

Serves 4
1 large waxy potato such as desiree, peeled and diced
300g green beans, sliced lengthwise and cut in half (or use a bean stringer)
400g dried trenette (or linguine or spaghetti)
knob of butter
freshly grated parmesan

1 garlic clove
pinch of sea salt
40 small-medium basil leaves, washed and patted dry
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp freshly grated mild pecorino
120 ml extra virgin olive oil

To make proper Ligurian pesto, you should use a mortar and pestle. Place the garlic, salt (which helps to keep the basil green) and basil in the mortar and start crushing. You shouldn’t pound the basil, but rather press the pestle around the sides of the mortar in a circular motion so that the ingredients meld smoothly together. Add the pine nuts (raw, not toasted) and the cheeses and keep pressing gently until the ingredients are blended to a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the oil – as much as the pesto will absorb, stirring with a spoon.

Alternatively, it is possible to make the pesto in a blender. Place the ingredients in the blender and pulse until the sauce is creamy. If you are not using the pesto immediately, store it in a jar with a layer of oil over the surface to prevent discolouration.

Bring 3 litres of salted water to boil in a pot. Add the potato first and cook for 2 minutes. Add the beans to the potatoes and allow to boil gently for another 2 minutes. Now add the pasta and cook according to packet directions, cooking until al dente (6-8 minutes). Drain the pasta, potatoes and beans, reserving a small glass of the cooking water.

Put half the pesto in a large bowl. Add a little of the cooking water to loosen the pesto, stir, then add the potatoes, beans, pasta, and the butter, and toss gently. Spoon the rest of the pesto on top, mix again, adding a little more of the cooking water if required, sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately.

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