Orecchiette With Pesto, Green Beans &Potatoes

Does anyone else have dreams they’re trying to graduate college but find out they don’t have enough credits? I feel like I’ve been having that dream very often – so strange!! In the dream, I’m always freaking out and trying to get a hold of my counselor to help me figure out what classes I need to take. I’m never able to get a straight answer and come up with a plan to take summer courses. Sometimes it’s me before marriage and kids, and there are some nights I dream I’m needing to graduate now. Yikes! I can’t even imagine.

I bring this all up because this week I made a pasta dish that was inspired by a meal I had in college. During my time at Marquette University, I took two years worth of Italian courses and had the best professor. She was from Italy and was so great at teaching us all the language. One evening, she invited us over to her home to cook a few Italian meals with her and her family. It was so sweet of her to open up her home and the meal was incredible. We all enjoyed learning some of their family recipes and spending time together outside of class.

One of the recipes she shared was a pasta with pesto, green beans and potatoes. It was so delicious and I had never eaten anything like it before. My Nonna doesn’t make pesto often, but I’ve always been a huge fan so I enjoyed it. She printed us out recipes and I had them saved forever, but must have lost them during our last move. But that’s the great thing about a good meal… it’s hard to forget. I replicated it and it turned out exactly the way I remember. It’s going to be a dish I make often because the whole family gobbled it up, and I love that it’s pasta and veggies together.

If you end up making this dish, don’t forget to tag #marinamakeseats!

Orecchiette with Pesto, Green Beans & Potatoes

Serves 4-6


  • 16 oz of tiny potatoes – sometimes called nibblers (about 3 cups)
  • 12 oz of green beans cut into 1-2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound of orecchiette pasta
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Basil Pesto

  • 4 packed cups of fresh basil, rinsed and stems removed
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of papper
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more if needed


Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil for ten minutes, or until fork tender. Using a straining spoon, remove the potatoes from the water, and place them in a large bowl to cool slightly. Add the green beans to boiling water and cook for about five minutes, or until fork tender, but not mushy. Strain the green beans and set aside.

When the potatoes have cooled slightly, use a knife and cutting board to slice the potatoes in half. Place the potatoes back in the bowl, add the green beans and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Set the potatoes and green beans aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add a tablespoon or two of salt after it comes to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook the pasta according to the al dente directions listed on the box. Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water – this will help when adding the pesto and will create a nice, creamy sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Add the basil, lemon juice and zest, garlic and pine nuts to a food processor or blender. Pulse several times until the basil is chopped up and everything is combined. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides. Add the parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times. Turn the processor or blender on completely, and drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. I like a thicker pesto, and a 1/2 cup is perfect.

Drain the pasta, place it back in the pot and add the seasoned potatoes and green beans. Stir everything together and add the pesto. Add the pasta water a little at a time (don’t feel like you need to use it all) and stir to create the perfect creamy sauce.

Serve immediately or let it sit out for a bit at room temperature.

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