Best ever pesto & potato pasta

A child-friendly take on pasta alla genovese. Kids can help make the green sauce and toss the whole mix together

  • Prep:20 mins
    Cook:11 mins
  • Serves 6
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 540
  • fat 34g
  • saturates 6g
  • carbs 46g
  • sugars 2g
  • fibre 4g
  • protein 12g
  • salt 0.2g


  • 150g green beans
  • 300g new potatoes
  • 300g short dried pasta like fusilli or a long pasta like linguine
  • large bunch basil
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100ml olive oil


What skills can kids learn from making pesto pasta?
As well as making a family meal, this recipe requires a couple of key skills that will help younger children become more confident cooks. COOKING PASTA: Pasta has become such a staple part of the family diet that it’s really useful for children to know how to cook it. It’s one of the first lessons of everyday cooking and the sooner they understand it, the better. IDENTIFYING HERBS/INGREDIENTS: Every time you cook with an aromatic ingredient, encourage your child to smell or taste it and repeat the name of the ingredient. this can start from a very early age, before they actually start cooking properly. It’s such a little thing, but it helps children to feel comfortable around food and excited about trying new ingredients.
Equipment required

Mini chopper or pestle and mortar; Small frying pan; Chopping board; Knife that's suitable for a child; Large saucepan; Wooden spoon; Mixing bowl.


  1. KIDS the writing in bold is for you. GROWN-UPS the rest is for you. Pick the basil for the pesto. Get your child to pick the basil leaves off the stalks. Ask them to look at and smell the leaves as you tell them the name of the herb until they remember it – try to do this with all herbs when you can.

  2. Make the pesto. Toast the pine nuts in a pan over a low heat. A child of seven years plus can stir the nuts in the pan. Tip into a mini chopper (or use a pestle and mortar) with the basil, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil. Blitz or pound into a green sauce, then set aside.

  3. Chop up the beans. Using the child-friendly knife, get children from the age of five to chop the green beans into shorter lengths, and quarter the potatoes. Younger children can snap the beans into short lengths while you prepare the potatoes.

  4. Cook the vegetables and pasta Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes and boil for 3 mins. Remove from the heat and ask the child to tip in the pasta and give it a stir. Put the pan back on the heat, boil the pasta for 5 mins, add the beans and cook for a final 3 mins.

  5. Mix everything together. Drain everything well and tip into a bowl. Spoon most of the pesto into the pasta and stir everything together to coat. Bring the large bowl of pasta to the table and serve with extra Parmesan, more basil and remaining pesto, if you like.

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