This is my absolute go to for a comforting and hearty pasta dish!
I was forced to live in Italy as part of my degree (tough, I know) and this coincided with my very many years of being vegetarian (from the ages of 16 – 31, being vegetarian that is…Italy was only a couple of years!).
So, what does a vegetarian eat in Italy? Lasagne and pasta ragú (aka bolognese) are out. And they are fond of adding chopped bacon to every dish, and thinking that is ok for vegetarians as it is chopped up really small (which reminds me of the scene in the Royle Family where Nanna learns Anthony’s new girlfriend is vegetarian and asks if she could have wafer-thin ham).
In general it was easy to eat very well in Italy, though pasta does get a little monotonous. UK/Irish food is definitly just as good as Italian food despite the reputations and jokes about the former! I cooked for myself most of the time, anyway.
But the vegetarian dishes in restaurants didn’t stand out until I found this one. I was sitting next to a rare (at that time) vegetarian Italian in a restaurant on a “school trip” to Bologna. Everyone else was eating bolognese, of course! And he let me in on this little secret!
It’s got the main comfort food essential – cream, and lashings of it (real cream…). Also vegetables, so it is healthy (and I suppose you could make it without the cream, if you really wanted. I suppose). And pesto (homemade, so easy).
I don’t do exact measurements, and if you want that this dish is actually based on this recipe – but I don’t do the potatoes. Here is my version:
- Green beans (strange, but tinned work best in this recipe – or overcook fresh ones)
- Cream (lashings)
- Pesto (chuck a plant/packet of basil leaves in the food processor with 2-3 cloves of garlic, few tablespoon fulls of ground nuts – any/fresh whole pine nuts, decent bit of parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt & pepper – play with the qualtities for your own personal taste).
Cook the pasta and green beans. Drain them and toss them together in a still warms pan. Add the pesto – a little at first. Add enough cream to make a decent sauce. Taste to see if you need to add more pesto.
Eat and feel comforted!