I call this recipe “improv” because it is meant to be a celebration of summer ingredients put together in whatever proportion you like. At my house, we prefer small portions of pasta in relation to other ingredients, so for us this is all about the green beans and the roasted cherry tomatoes (and parmigiano!), but you could change the proportions, scale up or scale down, however and whatever you like — amounts are fluid here. Just don’t leave out the roasted cherry tomatoes, which add such wonderful flavor.

I’ve given you links to recipes for both a basil sauce (a pretty green—the basil is blanched first) and a basil-spinach pesto, but you could use a good store-bought local pesto like Pam’s Pesto or your own favorite pesto recipe here. Whatever works. If the pesto is very thick, thin with a little olive oil.

We sometimes add a little leftover roasted chicken to this for supper.

Serves 2

  • 4 ounces cooked and cooled pasta (any shape)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces very young or thin green beans, blanched
  • 1 recipe roasted cherry tomatoes, plus the oil from roasting
  • 1/3 to ½ cup (or to taste) basil pesto, basil sauce, or spinach-basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup (or to taste) Parmigiano regianno
  • Toasted sliced almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts
  • Shredded roasted chicken (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Put the pasta in a large mixing bowl and season with a bit of salt. Add the green beans, the cherry tomatoes and their oil, and 1/3 cup of the pesto. Toss gently with a silicone spatula to combine. Add 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano and toss.

2. Taste and add more pesto or cheese if desired.

3. If using chicken, toss it with a tablespoon or two of pesto before adding to the bowl. Toss again. Stir in most of the nuts and serve garnished with the remaining nuts, a bit more cheese, and a few basil leaves if you like. Drizzle with a little olive oil if you like, too.