Being able to have a 20x30 foot organic vegetable garden in my backyard, in Westboro no less, is an immense privilege. Each day I get to wander out back, check out the progress, have a bite or two fresh off the stalk, and generally witness how amazing it is to grow something from a tiny seed in a lump of dirt. But with the sweet comes also the sour; the bunnies, squirrels, racoons, and bugs that beat you to your bounty, the super early morning get-ups to water the garden because you forgot to last night, the short vacations you have to take since the garden would kick it if left too long on it`s own without water, and then there’s this other thing that is called a bumper crop. A bumper crop, for those of you who don’t know, is a particularly productive harvest yield for a particular crop. Beans! I have more beans than I’ll ever know what to do with. I’ve been doling them out to friends and giving heaps upon heaps away to neighbours for weeks. I know this “problem” really shouldn’t be a bad thing, but when you eat beans every single day it really starts to get to you.
So, when I came across this recipe for pesto pasta with beans I knew it would be an excellent way to use up some beans without feeling like I was eating more beans. Mmm, unlike beans, I think I could eat pesto every day. Note that the orecchiette is not mandatory to the susscess of this dish, but there is something quite wonderful about how the pesto settles into the hollows of the pasta, therefore it`s highly recommended that you seek some out.
Orecchiette with Pesto, Green & Yellow Beans
FOR THE PESTO
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
FOR THE PASTA
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.