My Cook’s Illustrated arrived this week and, buoyed up with my mountain of pillows, I plopped on top of our bed for my bi-monthly treat. I love reading Kimball’s preface, glancing through the tips and tricks and then settling in to read each and every article. Having just stocked up on every shape of pasta available (I couldn’t give up on $1/box sale), I was immediately drawn to a dish made with gemelli– a short, twisted pasta– four boxes of which were in my cupboard. The dish originates from Liguria where pesto was first made.
Pasta and pesto and potatoes. With some fresh green beans for an additional crunch and pop of color, and lemon juice for a bit of sharpness. The sauce is part pasta water and pesto, part potato bits that slough off into the liquid as you mix everything together. You cook the potatoes and pasta in the same pot, using the same water, but not together; the potatoes go first. You do need a second pan to cook the beans, but that’s it. I made the process even easier– no food processor for pesto– because of the store-bought pesto (Wegman’s Italian Classics) I had leftover in my refrigerator.
The guys loved it. You will, too!
A New Pesto and Pasta Dish (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 1 lb waxy potatoes (red, white, Yukon), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 qts water
- 1/2 c or more to taste pesto (your own or store bought)
- 2 TB butter
- 1 TB lemon juice or to taste
- 1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
In a large pot, bring 3 qts of water to boil. Add 1 TB of salt, stir to dissolve, then add the potatoes.
Cook about 10 – 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes from the pot using a slotted spoon, and place on a tray. Do NOT discard water. While potatoes are cooking, place 1/2 c water and 1/4 tsp salt into a skillet large enough to hold the beans.
When water boils, add the beans, cover, and cook 8 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain beans and place on the tray with the potatoes.
Add the gemelli to the boiling potato water and cook until tender, about 11 minutes. Place a sieve over a large bowl and drain the pasta, letting the water settle into the bowl below.
Add the pasta back to the pot along with the potatoes, beans, pesto, butter, lemon juice 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 1/2 c pasta water. Use a rubber spatula to vigorously stir the contents; you’re trying to develop a creamy sauce from the water, pesto and potatoes. Add more pasta water to your desired sauce consistency.
A fun pasta shape, creamy sauce and crunchy beans with that unmistakable basil-and-garlic aroma of pesto!