Earlier this year the neighbours next door asked me to sit their cats while they were away on holiday in Italy. In return they brought back some very delicious chocolate pieces and a jar of pesto.
The jar, albeit cute, has beens sitting around my pantry. See, I don’t particularly like pesto. I feel that the nutritious worth of a meal consisting of noodles and pesto is basically none other than empty calories and lots of fat. It’s something I may eat if I find nothing with more nutritious value around.
During my own vacation in Italy however, at the lovely gluten-free and vegetarian Hotel Gallo in Tignale a few kilometres above Lake Garda, I discovered that adding vegetables to what I would otherwise consider a very unattractive dish might be the answer for my dillema: we had spaghetti with potatoes, green beans and pesto. Today, I decided to re-create that meal and get cracking on eating up that small jar of pesto. This meal is a great lunch for a lazy summer afternoon or a quick post-work meal. I am sure it would work well with other green vegetables, such as broccoli or zucchini (the latter I would steam rather than cook though). I should say that I absolutely adore green beans and would eat them all the time if I could. Unfortunately, they are only in season a very short time here in Germany and the remainder of the year you can only get green beans imported from Kenya or other African countries. I have nothing against produce from Africa, it’s only that they have a huge water problem, which translates into a huge environmental and political problem in addition to a starving population and a fair wage problem. Just because some people think it’s perfectly adequate to make food for export to Europe and the rest of the world and just because they are readily available in all the supermarkets, it’s not justification enough (for me anyway) to buy and eat them. I could buy frozen green beans (some organic companies guarantee that they are grown either in Germany or France), and sometimes I do, but it’s just not the same.
500g green beans (freed from their ends and cut into two-inch pieces)
120g gluten-free spaghetti (I used no. 3 spaghetti from Schaer as this is what I happened to have in the house)
2 tablespoons pesto
parmiggiano to taste
Two pots with well salted, boiling water
A hot pan
Boil the green beans until tender. This may take a while, maybe 15 minutes. I usually observe the changing colour of the beans to indicate the proper level of tenderness. The beans turn a bit darker green while boiling (I then try one bean to confirm my suspicion once I think the moment is right), but not too dark and somewhat greyish; this would be an indication that they’ve been overboiled. When you think that the beans are done, drain them in a collander.
In a separate pot with salted water (you can also use the same water, if you like as long as you cook the spaghetti last), add a teaspoon of olive oil and add the spaghetti once the water has reached a boil. Cook the spaghetti until tender, about twelve minutes. Gluten-free spaghetti will fall apart if you overcook them, so pay attention what you are doing. Once the spaghetti are al-dente, drain them. I don’t believe in shocking spaghetti with cold water, I usually add a small piece of butter though as gluten-free pasta tends to stick much more then regular pasta made of wheat.
In a hot pan, toss the spaghetti, the pesto and the green beans. Serve warm and sprinkle with thinly sliced parmiggiano pieces. Enjoy & bom appetite!
PS. I apologize for the blurriness of the last picture, but (as I just discovered) it’s very hard to toss food in a pan, while trying to take a picture of yourself tossing the food in the pan.