I don’t know about anyone else, but I am loving seeing the spring produce coming in this year probably more than ever after the winter we’ve had. We try to stay as seasonal as possible as for one, I’d rather not have my food rack up more air miles than me, but it also just tastes better when it isn’t traveling as far. That’s one thing with having organic vegetables delivered, you become all the more conscious of what is in season, so seeing more green things like artichokes and green beans has been pretty exciting.
Despite liking beans, somehow our last bag seemed to be rapidly dying on me and so I needed to use them quickly, and not just as a side since we’d just had them that way. Particularly with a toddler in the house, pasta is a regular feature on our menu for a nice, easy mid-week meal and so I got to thinking about making them in to pesto. Pesto or ‘sauce’ as my son calls it, is so easy to make up endless variations on. We often make arugula pesto, but whatever you use, it’s a great way to get in some green veg, and nice and quick to make. So when it also tastes good, unsurprisingly this green bean and oregano pesto is a definite win.
Unlike the variation on pesto in my chard pesto and mozzarella orzo bake recipe, this is closer to a classic pesto, albeit a bit different. It also seemed quite timely given that the Boston Marathon is coming up next week, and one of the classic pre-race meals is pasta. I may have no chance of participating, but I will take any excuse to work on and share a recipe, so here’s to all the runners (as well as cooks for toddlers or other fussy eaters who could do with more vegetables in their diet).
I did think about making a pun about how I used green rather than ‘runner’ beans, but I realized that would be pretty terrible. Oops, just told you. Oh well, ignore and just look at how tasty this looks.
Whatever your reason to make this, it is really tasty and so easy to make. Simply boil the beans for a couple minutes then whizz them up with the rest of the ingredients. Then when you are ready to eat, stir it in with your cooked pasta. That’s it. The color of this pesto is lighter than a classic basil pesto, and the flavor is also lighter and fresher. It uses less oil as well, since the beans are a bit more moist, though it could easily take a bit more if you’d like. It is nice to drizzle a little olive oil over at the end to get a bit of the flavor, though use a good oil. You can reduce the cheese if you like, though we are all pretty big cheese fans in our house so do like the slight stringiness from the parmesan as it melts when you stir the pesto through.
One of the other great things about this bean and oregano pesto, or any pesto, is you can add as little or as much as you like to the pasta, from nothing else to a pile of sautéd vegetables or whatever else you have around. We often lightly cook up some onion, zucchini/courgette and red pepper as the pasta is cooking and stir them in with the pesto. Here, I just fried a little onion and added that and some diced up leftover chicken. I do like some onion in there as the slight sweetness goes really well with everything else.
This makes for such a quick and easy meal, even adding in the time to cook the pasta, yet is so much tastier than ready made pestos, there’s really no excuse not to make it soon. It honestly is delicious, and great for runners, toddlers, or anyone really. I hope you give it a go, and for the non-fans, don’t tell them about the beans in there. They’ll never know, but will happily gobble them down if my son is anything to go by.
A twist on a traditional pesto, this version has both aromatic herbs and green bean power!
- 5 oz green beans 140g
- 1 oz pine nuts 30g
- 3/8 oz oregano 10g (fresh) - 1/2 of a 3/4oz packet, leaves stripped from stems
- 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan 30g
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus a little more drizzled over pasta
Trim the beans and put in a pan with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes so the beans darken slightly and are tender, then drain and rinse in cold water.
Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet/frying pan.
Place the beans, pine nuts, oregano leaves, garlic and parmesan in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stir in the olive oil and set aside until ready to use (it will keep refrigerated, with a layer of oil over it, for a week or more).
Stir through hot pasta or use as a spread.
Enough for 12oz box of pasta, approx.