Zucchini alla Genovese / Courgette Pappardelle with Potatoes, French Beans, Broad Beans and Pesto
My vegetarian Lent is drawing to a close, and I have to say, it has been both enjoyable and exciting! I hope I’ll continue to be really moderate with my meat intake – if you fancy being a bit healthier, and putting less pressure on the environment, I would definitely suggest a veggie spell – you have to become more resourceful and exploratory with your cooking, and you’ll find some really exciting, fresh tastes along the way.
Last night was one such night! The fiancé fancied making Trofie alla Genovese – twirly, substantial pasta shapes from Genoa, which you serve with french beans, potato and pesto. Trofie are not all that difficult to make – we follow the recipe from Geometry of Pasta – but they certainly provide a hearty meal, combining starchy potato and dense pasta.
Here’s an evening of trofie alla Genovese:
I had just been to the market and got 5 courgettes for £1 – so I fancied using them up. I had also picked up some bags of herbs from Waitrose, at the end-of-day reductions – tarragon, coriander and basil. Hence the recipe was born – and it was really tasty too! I hope you agree!
(to serve 2)
handful french beans
frozen broad beans (or bean mix – I used broad bean, pea and edamame bean mix, from M&S)
1 reasonably large potato
for the pesto:
1 tbsp pine kernels
1 big clump basil
2-3 fronds tarragon
1 tsp capers (to taste)
With a potato peeler, cut pappardelle-style ribbons of courgette, from end to end. Try to maximise the length of your courgette strips. Leave the seedy middle – I cut this into little cubes to chuck in at the end.
Chop your potato into approx. 2cm cubes, and plop into salted water, and bring to the boil. As you put them in tepid water (not fresh boiled), you now have time to make your pesto.
Make your pesto. Either in a small food processor or with a mandolin blade, add your leaves (I strip the tarragon off its stems). In a pestle and mortar, crush your pine kernels. Add them, your capers, and your parmesan. Add a good glug of olive oil. Chop to your desired consistency – I like a little bit of texture form my herbs, but you could equally blitz it to a yummy green paste. Pepper to your taste.
Gently put your streamers of courgette into a large, heatproof bowl which you have a cover to (a large plate will do, as long as it seals the top).
Your potatoes should be beginning to cook, as the water will have been at boiling point for a few minutes now. Add your chopped french beans when your potatoes still have a bit of bite – keep at a slow, rolling boil. After a couple of minutes, add your beans or bean mix. 5-10 mins later, everything should be cooked (your potatoes are probably even be a little over – that’s the aim). Instead of draining the boiling water away, strain it into your courgette bowl and cover the mix immediately. Whilst your ribbons steam, add a good dollop of your homemade pesto into your veg mix. Add any pepper you need (or salt, but personally I find the capers and parmesan give quite enough saltiness). Put the lid on your veg to keep the heat in. Don’t keep checking your courgettes, as the steam will keep escaping, but after 3-5 mins, have a little check, pulling a strip out and giving it a chew. It shouldn’t bite back, but shouldn’t be soggy-soft either.
5minutes should be enough for your courgettes. Don’t drain them, just pull the strips out with tongs and plop straight into your veggie pesto pan, without bothering to shake the water off – the starchy water that cooked your potatoes will make a lovely sauce when it combines with the pesto. Swirl the mix to make sure it’s nicely mixed, then get your tongs again and swirl the tendrils into bowls, covering with the veg and scooping up any pestoey sauce at the bottom. Scrape a little more parmesan over the top, a grind of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and there you go! I hope you enjoy this Springtime green pasta – my new primavera pasta!