When I first met Mr. Tofu, his instant messenger handle was “pestophile.” I thought that was very charming, I even mistook it to mean that he was a foodie. That wasn’t exactly the case, but the fine and callow fellow does indeed love pesto. Thus, I am always looking for new ways to cook with it.
So this week, I give you a pesto pasta recipe that also uses the beautiful little French haricot verts (thin green beans) that my garden is just starting to bare. They are much more tender than those woody green beans you find in supermarkets out of season and they have a great green taste that matches nicely with pesto. You’ll find them in my garden (help yourself), or at farmer’s markets.
Mr. Tofu is happy as a clam with this simple “green-on-green” pasta dish all by itself. As an omnivore cooking for a vegetarian, I find the pasta is improved quite a bit so with the addition of sizzling slices of garlicky chorizo. As so very many things are.
The chorizo in question is hard, salami-like, Spanish chorizo, not the soft squishy Mexican variety. You can find it at good cheese and charcuterie shops and even at some grocery stores where the fancy cheeses live. Thinly sliced and crisped in a saute´pan, chorizo is much more than an antipasto component, it’s pork-alicious.
One more note. Since this dish is really simple, it requires that all of the ingredients be really top notch. I buy Bionaturae farfelle pasta, real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (and grate it myself), and I make my own pesto. If you’re in a rush, you can certainly buy good quality pre-made pesto, but I won’t guarantee that your pestophile won’t turn his or her nose up at it. If you are cooking for a vegan, omit the cheese from the pesto and toss it in with the omnivore’s portion of pasta right before serving.
Green Bean, Pesto, and Sometimes Chorizo Pasta
Serves 1 really hungry omnivore and 1 vegetarian, or 4 normal appetites
2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
1 pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, center green sprout removed (if present)
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts or walnuts
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmingiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper
8 ounces organic farfelle pasta
8 ounces organic haricot verts, trimmed
1 ounce sliced Spanish chorizo
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, salt, lemon juice, garlic, and pine nuts. With the blender running, add the olive oil and blend or process until smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside 1/3 cup for the pasta. (The remaining pesto can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil for 3 minutes. Add the green beans and boil until pasta is tender, 5 more minutes. While the pasta and beans are cooking, fry the chorizo in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling and crisped on edges, about 2 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.
Drain the pasta and beans in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the pesto.
Vegetarian: Transfer one half of the pasta mixture to a bowl.
Toss the warmed chorizo with the remaining pasta and serve.