Fresh Ribbon Pasta with Green Beans and Pesto

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Because chopped basil oxidizes so quickly, pesto is best when freshly made. Yes, you can freeze it, but freezing compromises the taste. If you make the pesto and use it immediately, you will notice the difference. This dish is not about al dente green beans. Cook them until they are soft enough to twirl with the pasta.

NotesPine nuts, almonds, and walnuts enhance many vegetable sauces, adding richness and texture. In some recipes, like this one, they act as a thickener. I always toast nuts before using to heighten their flavor.

To toast nuts: Preheat the oven to 325° or 350°F. Put the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet or, if the amount is small, in a metal pie tin. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and lightly colored, shaking the pan once or twice. Pine nuts take 5 to 10 minutes, almonds and walnuts a little longer. With almonds and walnuts, break one open to make sure it’s toasty throughout. Let cool before using to allow them to crisp.

Serves4 to 6



Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Equipmentfood processor

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecheesy, garlicky, herby, light, nutty, rich, savory, tangy

Type of Dishfresh pasta, pasta


  • 1½ cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (see Notes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated aged pecorino cheese
  • Salt
  • ¾ pound haricots verts (slender French green beans), ends trimmed
  • 1 pound Fresh Egg Pasta , cut as trenette


  1. To make the pesto, in a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, and garlic and pulse until well chopped. With the machine running, add the olive oil gradually, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Puree until almost smooth; the pesto should have a little texture to it. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the cheeses. Season generously with salt.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook until almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on their size. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente.

  3. Just before the pasta is ready, whisk a few tablespoons of hot pasta water into the pesto to thin it. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and beans and return them to the warm pot. Add the pesto and toss well, moistening with some of the reserved pasta water as needed. Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.


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