Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Green Beans with Almond Pesto #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: The word “pesto” conjures up the taste of basil, but pesto simply means paste. And with pine nuts gone so pricy, other nuts have taken center stage. So any herb and nut combo will do—another family fave, one I don’t think I’ve shared here, uses a pumpkin seed and cilantro pesto with salmon. This one doesn’t use a lot of herbs, combining fresh thyme with roasted almonds. The red pepper flakes add flavor, not heat.

I thought I could cram all this in my mini food processor, but it was too much and I had to run it in batches. Next time, I’ll pull out the larger Cuisinart. You might want a little more oil depending on your preference; this is more of a chunky, creamy pesto than a smooth one!

The original recipe, from The Smitten Kitchen blog, calls for two pounds of green beans. That’s a lot of green beans! I cooked half a pound, but made the full pesto recipe, thinking it would be hard to cut and knowing it could be used for other things – more beans later in the week, or on salmon or crostini. I found that it keeps easily for a week; we polished it off before we could try freezing it.

Toast the almonds on a cookie sheet or in a pie plate for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Don’t overbake; they’ll continue to cook and brown as they cool.

A combo of green and yellow beans -- even purple if you find them -- would be quite lovely. I served this on a platter with halved grape and cherry tomatoes; Greek olives would be fun, too. It makes a pretty plate and a terrific summer side dish that I think will be yummy in winter, too.

Green Beans with Almond Pesto

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Blog by Deb Perelman

½ to 2 pounds green beans (see note above)
1 cup almonds, toasted and cooled
1 1/4 ounces (about 1/3 cup grated) Parmesan or Pecorino, cut in cubes (grate it only if you’re not using a food processor)
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (or more; see note above)

grape or cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives for serving (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Trim green beans and cook water until tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes for regular green beans, a little less for the thinner haricots vert. Immediately drain into a colander and rinse repeatedly with cold water, stirring as you rinse to stop the cooking. Shake the colander to drain thoroughly.

In food processor, grind almonds, cheese, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt to a coarse paste. Add vinegar, and pulse again. Stir in oil and adjust seasonings to taste.

Toss cooled green beans with pesto and arrange on a serving platter or in a shallow bowl. Serve with a mix of grape or cherry tomato halves. Drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil for a fresh glisten.

From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5, out now in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20, 2020 (Seventh St. Books and Tantor Audio) : 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories.  Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. I'm always looking for new ways to serve vegetables. This looks great!

    1. Enjoy! (I'm eating some of the leftovers this very minute!)

  2. Looks delish! I just put almonds on the list to make this. Thanks, Leslie.

  3. I would have to make it without the almonds as I am allergic to nuts.

    1. Kim, without the almonds, there's not much left of this recipe! But you could get the rest of the flavors by tossing the beans with the oil -- garlic-infused oil would be nice -- and the thyme, red pepper, flakes, and salt, then topping it with grated or shaved Parmesan.

  4. toasted almonds sound brilliant!