Yesterday I blogged about pesto. Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite pesto pasta dishes. But first, I hope you’ll indulge me as I take a short trip down memory lane.
When I was on a culinary trip in Italy back in 2009, we visited a small village called Taormina. Perched on a mountainside about 45 minutes from the Mt. Etna volcano, Taormina is a place of jaw-dropping beauty. From the ancient Greco-Roman theater to the Saracen castle, time seems to stand still in this little village, so removed from the world.
Walking down the street, you’re greeted by stores that sell colorful local pottery and crafts.
Bakeries tempt you with colorful window displays of cookies and candies. Sweet shops offer gelato in a rainbow of colors. Taormina is a feast for the eyes.
Of course, it’s also a feast for the stomach. I found that out when we started exploring off the beaten path. Down a long narrow alleyway, the smell of home-cooked Italian wafted to our noses. Following the heavenly aroma, we found ourselves in front of a tiny restaurant. An old woman was serving a bowl of pasta to the only customer sitting inside. We walked in, hungry for whatever we were smelling. The old woman greeted us in Italian, and soon it became clear that she didn’t speak any English. Unfortunately I only knew a couple words in Italian (spaghetti? gnocchi?… la bella luna?). But when I pointed to the bowl of pasta she’d just served, she smiled—she knew exactly what I wanted. Food is the international language!
To this day, I dream about that bowl of pasta. I was so impressed that I wrote down the name in a little notebook I carry with me when I travel. “Pasta Trenette.”
When I got back home, I made it my mission to find out how to make authentic Pasta Trenette. The dish has roots in Liguria, Italy. And the secret ingredient is—you guessed it!—pesto.
Here’s the recipe. It’s really easy to make and so, so tasty. The Italians make it with a pasta called trenette, which is very similar to linguini or tagliatelle. I’ve had trouble tracking down trenette pasta, so I usually use linguini. While Pasta Trenette tastes best with traditional Basil Pesto (which includes cheese), you could also make a vegan/pareve version with my dairy-free Pareve Basil Pesto. But I really recommend the cheese. Really, really. 🙂
For my Basil Pesto and Pareve Pesto (Dairy Free) recipes, click here.
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- 1 lb red new potatoes, peeled
- 1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1 lb linguini or tagliatelle pasta
- 1/2 cup basil pesto - please see note below
- Extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, or to taste - see note below (use a vegetarian cheese to keep the dish vegetarian)
- If you're planning to use a pre-made pesto that contains cheese, use 1 full cup of pesto in this recipe and skip the additional cheese, except for garnish.Trim and halve your green beans, then peel your new potatoes and cut them into large chunks.
- Put the potatoes and the green beans into the pot of boiling salted water. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potato pieces are tender. If your green beans are small and thin, they may cook faster than the potatoes. If this happens, remove them from the pot and let the potatoes continue cooking.
- Remove vegetables from the pot with slotted spoon when tender.
- Return water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions to desired tenderness.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return pasta to empty pot along with the cooked vegetables.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine basil pesto with a ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add additional water to create a thinner sauce, if desired.
- Pour the liquefied sauce over the pasta and vegetables, toss to coat. If you've used my pesto sauce (or another dairy free sauce), add 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino and toss with the pasta and sauce. If your pesto already has cheese, no need to add any additional cheese, except for garnish. Serve immediately.