Any evening that includes basil is a good evening. When that basil is made into a fragrant pesto sauce, that evening just got better. Serving pasta with pesto, green beans, and potatoes is classic in northern parts of Italy. Yet, I know only a handful of people who take advantage of this rustic, earthy combination. For this dish, I often leave out the pasta entirely and throw in a few chickpeas for good measure.
To make the pesto, chop lots of basil (at least 2-3 cups, packed), toasted pine nuts, and fresh garlic in a food processor. Slowly add enough extra virgin olive oil (about 2/3 cup) to make a smooth, but still thick sauce. Pour the mixture into a bowl, and season with lots of black pepper and a bit of salt. I usually add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper at this point. Stir in freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (a good 1/2 cup). After ensuring that it tastes like your idea of paradise, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
Did I mention that we’ve just begun harvesting our green beans and red potatoes? Perfect timing.
Roast quartered red potatoes in the oven until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Meanwhile, steam trimmed green beans for two minutes (two minutes!) before transferring them to an ice bath.
Now, simply bring everything together. In a large skillet, add the roasted potatoes, blanched green beans, and pesto sauce. To make a full meal, throw in a generous amount of chickpeas. (You know, those in the fridge, those that already have been soaked and cooked, those that are ready for throwing into things. Yes, those chickpeas.)
Gently stir until the dish is heated throughout. Adjust seasoning. Broil some bread. Take a deep breath. Eat a spoonful of the left-over pesto. Set a table. Pour a glass of wine. And enjoy.