Green Beans and Potatoes with Deconstructed Pesto

A hearty bowl of green beans and potatoes with pesto


When Bobby and I got married there were two dishes that he had made for himself quite often in college and brought into our kitchen. One was pinto bean burritos and the other was a pot of fresh green beans and potatoes.  Both dishes are still with us today, but both have been gussied up a bit.  To the green beans and potato dish we’ve added a deconstructed pesto to enhance the original salt and pepper seasoning, and sometimes we’ll top it with a protein to make a full meal.  Usually that protein is …….

wait for it, ……..

wait for it…….

bacon!  Of course bacon!  However, we’ve also used leftover grilled flank steak as well as smoked ham.  Whatever meat we choose to use we cube it, then tossed it in with the beans and potatoes at the end right before adding the cheese.

Our normal way to serve this is just as a big bowl of delicious fresh green beans, potatoes, lots of fresh basil, and a few other special ingredients.  When I make it for the two of us, I serve it as a meal.  When I make it for guests, I serve it as a side.  It’s hearty and has so many wonderful flavors that it will have you going MMMMMMMMM.


A hearty bowl of green beans and potatoes with pesto


Green Beans and Potatoes with Deconstructed Pesto Recipe

Serves 4
Prep and Cook Time: less than 45 minutes

Recipe Author: MJ of MJ’s Kitchen


1 pound fresh green beans, snapped into 2” pieces
½ tsp. salt
1 pound small to medium red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. Pinon nuts (pine nuts) or chopped pecans
5 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste


The green beans and potatoes are cooked separately, but using the same pot of water.  First you cook the beans, then scoop them out of the water, and add the potatoes.

  1. Fill a 4 quart sauce pan with water. Add ½ tsp. salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add beans. Reduce heat to a slow boil.
  3. Cook beans until crisp tender about 6 minutes. (Larger beans may take longer)
  4. Remove beans from water using a slotted spoon. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Bring the same water back to a boil. Add potatoes and reduce heat to a slow boil. Cook potatoes until done, about 8 to 12 minutes. Poke with a fork to check doneness. Drain.*
  6. Rinse and dry sauce pan.
  7. Using the same sauce pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat.
  8. When butter is melted, add pinon nuts and garlic. Sauté until nuts and garlic are toasted light brown.  Keep the heat low enough so that the butter won’t burn.
  9. Add beans, potatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Gentle toss all ingredients. Heat over medium high until heated through.
  10. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and serve.

*Drain the water into freezer containers.  Let cool and freeze. Use as a vegetable broth for soups.



A hearty bowl of green beans and potatoes with deconstructed pesto


Kitchen Notes

The Green Beans – Fresh green beans are the only way to go with this dish. If desperate, I guess you could used canned, but if all you have it frozen, then don’t make this dish.  The texture of frozen greens beans is just too disturbing and would actually ruin this dish.

The Potatoes – Red potatoes are best because of their texture and low starch content.  They hold up quite well to the double cooking and don’t fall apart or become gummy.  Even though I love yellow and Yukon golds, they do tend to fall apart during the reheating process, so save them for mashed potatoes.

The Pine nuts (Pinon) – If you don’t have pinon nuts, use pecans.  I’ve used pecans many times and they complement the other flavors in this dish quite well.  In fact, it’s a toss up as to which I like better – pinon or pecans?

The Cheese – There are lots of choices here. We prefer Pecorino Romano or Manchego, but any other similar hard cheese works well.  Softer cheeses such as cheddar or Monterey Jack might also work, just be sure to add them at the very end once you remove the dish from the heat, and then serve immediately.

Toppings – As I mentioned before, you can topped this dish with cooked, crumbled bacon, or seared little cubes of beef.  Other proteins such as chicken, pork or tofu work as well; however, use small pieces and if you can make them crispy that would be best. The crispiness adds a nice texture to this dish.

Vegan Modification – Omit the butter and double the amount of olive oil.  Eliminate the cheese or use a non-dairy cheese if you have one you like. Personally, I’ve never found a non-dairy cheese that I liked, but then I love cheese.

The Deconstructed Pesto – I do love a good pesto, but to be honest, I love a deconstructed pesto better.  It’s easier to make, not near as messy, and you get the texture of the nuts.  Plus, you don’t need to use near the amount of oil.  Other dishes I make with a deconstructed pesto of sorts are my Sauteed Yellow Squash and Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad.

There are just some dishes that never get old and this green bean and potato dish is one of them.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.



This Green Beans and Potatoes recipe has been shared with Hearth & Soul   .


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58 Responses to “Green Beans and Potatoes with Deconstructed Pesto”

  1. Joanne T Ferguson October 2, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    G;day! What a lovely, healthy dish, true!
    LOVE your peaceful and tranquil looking photo too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as part of Your Best Recipes Sept

  2. Nami | Just One Cookbook October 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I love the story behind this dish that Bobby used to make this and now it still appears on the table! I don’t think my husband cooked before… thank goodness he picked up bbqing but other than that, he doesn’t have his signature meal.;) Love potatoes so I already like this dish and can imagine making it as soon as I grab green beans!

    • mj October 1, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

      Thanks Nami! I was lucky that Bobby lived in an apartment for 4 years during college so he had to learn how to cook. He’s pretty good at it, too. 🙂 Hope you get a chance to make this dish. It’s quite tasty.

  3. Swathi October 1, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Delicious. Love this rewamped potato.Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop.

  4. Nancy/SpicieFoodie September 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    I love that you took a classic recipe of yours and let it evolve. This sounds so, so good! Your photos are gorgeous MJ, but that’s nothing new. Thanks for being a part of the YBR:)

    • mj October 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Nancy and my pleasure for sharing with YBR!

  5. Kim Beaulieu September 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Oh em gee, this is one seriously beautiful dish. I cannot even get over how pretty this is. I could have seen my dad digging this one. He was such a green bean lover. I need to try this one.

  6. Kiran @ September 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Love the idea of deconstructed pesto — this salad is royal!

  7. Sissi September 25, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    I cannot believe I have missed such an extraordinary dish! Such simple ingredients but combined in such an unusual way! I would have never thought of putting all these together. Thank you for inspiration. I will definitely need it! Potatoes will soon become my friends, just like they do every autumn.

  8. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen September 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I love that you’ve called it deconstructed.. for all the flavors are definitely there, just intact:) This looks fabulous and perfect with the bacon.. at least in my humble opinion! xx

    • mj September 23, 2013 at 7:45 am #

      We do love bacon with it, but to be honest, we normally eat it without any meat component. It has so much flavor as it is.

  9. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles September 22, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    What a lovely simple salad — and so pretty too (your earthenware dishes are beautiful). I’ve never thought of reverse engineering pesto 😉 but it’s so clever and allows you to enjoy the ingredients in their whole form. It’s true, you don’t really get to appreciate the texture of the pine nuts in pesto and they do add a lot to the experience. Very nice MJ.

    • mj September 23, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      Thanks Kelly! I actually prefer the deconstructed pesto. You eliminate the noise and the cleanup and get lots of texture!

  10. Angie@Angie's Recipes September 22, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Cheese is a great source of protein too.. .so more for me please. This is a simple yet very delicious dish.

    • mj September 23, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      Thanks Angie! Yes, you can always add more cheese!

  11. Reese September 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I knew it has to be bacon! I was introduced to the Midwestern-style green beans & potatoes when I first visited Minnesota 8 years ago. They are comforting dishes, so I don’t mind the basic salt & butter seasoning. But once in a while, I do wish they could change it up a little bit:) Seeing your (and Bobby’s) version, I know I’d love this right away. The addition of pesto, pine nuts & basil can do great transformation to the regular dish. I know my Malaysian/Asian dressing to green beans & potatoes may be too different for some of the family members. Mark agrees with me there:) I have a good feeling that this will give them some good start for a change of flavor.

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Thanks Reese! Normally on really good fresh vegetables, salt and pepper is all you need, but it does get old. And when you grow your own herbs, you need to use them. 🙂

  12. Treat and Trick September 20, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Delicious combo and love the idea to make use of vegetable broth……

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      Thanks! I love using the broth in a winter soup.

  13. Charles September 20, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    No way, fresh green beans it would have to be! Canned are just… mush! It would ruin the dish definitely… I don’t even buy frozen ones so I can’t comment on how it might be *then*, but with fresh I can imagine it would be incredible.

    I’m a big olive oil fan, so I might drizzle on a little more, but it sounds so simple and wholesome and delicious (looks beautiful too!).

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      Thanks so much Charles! Believe it or not but amount of oil and butter in this recipe is really more than enough, t just cut back for the photo. 🙂

  14. Debra September 20, 2013 at 4:49 am #

    I love basil with green beans. And, of course, i love bacon with anything!

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      I’m with you on the bacon Debra!

  15. Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style September 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Fresh and delicious-looking. What a simple, hearty meal MJ!

  16. Carolyn Jung September 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Clever idea for the deconstructed pesto. Very cheffy. 😉

  17. wok with ray September 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    What a beautiful bowl of yum you got there. I would eat it by itself. It looks so hearty and filling. Really beautiful shot, MJ. Thank you. 🙂

  18. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef September 19, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    Any dish that lasts that long is definitely one I want to try.

  19. Kate@Diethood September 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Of course it’s BACON!!! 🙂 My husband knows how to make spaghetti…

    This sounds delicious! The pesto takes it up about a thousand notches! 🙂

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

      Thanks Kate! 🙂 yes, the pesto does turn something relatively plain into something exciting and delicious.

  20. Gomo | cHow Divine September 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    My husband knows how to make one thing – pasta with marinara sauce. But even that doesn’t make an appearance at our dinner table all that often.:) Now this is an impressive dish. Major kudos to your husband. Potatoes and pesto are so good together. And with the beans, the dish look so vibrant! Fantastic dish MJ!

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      Thank Gomo! There are quite a few dishes that Bobby’ like to cook, and I love it when he cooks them! Of course he is the grill master. 🙂

  21. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies September 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Simple and delicious–I love it! Green beans and potatoes go together so well.

  22. Ramona September 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    What a beautifully vibrant dish. I never paired basil with potatoes… but it sounds like a winner and a definite must try. 🙂

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks Ramona! Definitely a combination you need to try. I think you’ll like it.

  23. Liz September 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Sounds wonderful, MJ…I love basil in any form and it’s wonderful with potatoes and beans!!!

  24. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz September 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Totally a dish worth carrying on and adapting. Just love anything deconstructed.

  25. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania September 18, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I am sure this can go as a meal in my family too! What a lovely dish and adding deconstructed pesto to this happy dish makes it more happier. Loved this idea and bacon in this would be just perfect!

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Thanks! The bacon does complement it quite well!

  26. john@kitchenriffs September 18, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    I really like the idea of deconstructed pesto. For a lot of dishes it makes more sense than regular pesto, and you avoid too much oil. Great idea. As is this super dish! Green beans and potatoes are a wonderful combo. And I love the idea of either the bacon or the flank steak topping this dish so you can have a one-dish meal. Good stuff! Thanks.

    • mj September 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      Not only do you use less oil, you make less of I mess! :). Thanks John! It’s a keeper for sure.

  27. Laura @ Family Spice September 18, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    I can’t believe you even mentioned canned green beans! Gasp! I adore fresh green beans – just love them!

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Well, I had to offer one option. 🙂 Green beans and squash are definitely two vegetables that should only be eaten fresh.

  28. Judy @Savoring Today September 18, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    “frozen greens beans is just too disturbing” ~ MJ, this made me laugh. Texture is a big deal to me, so I’m right there with ya. What a tasty, simple dish! With fresh green beans, of course. 😉

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks Judy! Yes, I’m not a frozen green bean fan. Glad to see I’m not alone. 🙂

  29. Jennie @themessybakerblog September 18, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I could eat green beans every day without ever getting tired of them. This is the perfect bowl of veggies. Yum!

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Totally agree with eating green beans everyday! Wish I could find good ones during the off season. Thanks so much for your comments!

  30. Tessa September 18, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    I love fresh and colorful dishes such as this one! Great recipe MJ!

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks Tessa! You have some very colorful and tasty dishes yourself!

  31. Terra September 18, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    What a delicious recipe! The idea of adding deconstructed pesto is a pretty fantastic addition:-) I love that you keep the recipe alive, and added more love to it over the years! Yum, Hugs, Terra

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks so much Terra! I think the deconstructed pesto came out of the fact that I was just too lazy to make pesto. I hate the cleanup.:)

  32. Rathai September 18, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    I bet it is as delicious as it looks! I love potatoes AND green beans and will definitely give this a try. Lovely pictures, MJ.

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      It is! Thanks so much Rathai!

  33. Katerina September 18, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    When we were dating, my husband cooked for me tuna with pasta and cabbage salad. That was the first and the last time I saw anything from his hands lol! This is a beautiful dish and I love how it evolved throughout the years!

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:11 am #

      That’s funny Katerina! I guess I was lucky that Bobby had lived in an apartment during college so he had to learn to cook. It came in handy when we first got married and I was still in school. He did a lot of cooking for us. Thanks for your comment and have a great day!

  34. Karen (Back Road Journal) September 18, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    I make a similar dish using oregano instead of basil and no pine nuts. I can’t wait to try your version…it sounds great.

    • mj September 18, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      Thanks Karen! I’ll have to try oregano next time. I’ve used oregano with just green beans, but not with green beans and potatoes. Sounds great!


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