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Orecchiette with Pesto, Green & Yellow Beans

I suppose this recipe would work with any pasta, but there is something about those little ear shaped shells that hold the pesto all nice. This is an excellent recipe for bean, garlic, and basil season; they tend to overlap, so take advantage of using all three flavors in one easy dish.

Orecchiette with Pesto, Green & Yellow Beans


2 cups, tightly packed, basil leaves

¼ cup pine nuts

Salt to taste

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, or one garlic scape

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper


1 pound orecchiette

1 pound mixed green and yellow beans, trimmed and cut in 3/4-inch lengths (you can use all green beans if yellow beans are unavailable)

Pasta water (about 1/4 cup)

Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile grind the basil leaves and pine nuts in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a mortar and pestle. Add salt to taste and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend or grind until smooth.

Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or through a garlic press and add to the basil mixture. Blend together. Add the cheese and blend together. Taste, adjust salt and add pepper. Transfer to a large pasta bowl.

When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the orecchiette. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and after 5 minutes add the green beans. Boil the orecchiette and beans until the pasta is cooked al dente, another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pot and add 2 to 4 tablespoons to the pesto. Stir with a fork or a whisk until the pesto is smooth (add more water if desired). Drain the pasta and beans, toss with the pesto and serve.

Advance preparation: The pesto can be made ahead through step 1 and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen for a couple of weeks.

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