Penne with Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pesto (Vegan!)

For the past couple of years, I’ve been slowly eliminating meat and dairy from my diet.  With the help of some really good books (most notably The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone), I began to understand the harm that consuming meat and dairy can do to my body, and more importantly, animals.  If I’m being honest, I still cheat from time to time and have cheese or some other dairy product.   Also, I still have the occasional craving for a hamburger, but it’s been over 2 and a half years since I’ve had one.  However, I don’t consider not succumbing to cravings for hamburgers my biggest accomplishment over the last two years.  I think my biggest accomplishment is learning to cook wonderful, delicious, and healthy vegan meals.  Here’s one of my favorites that I adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.


  • 2 to 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 ounces dried penne (you can use whatever pasta you want)
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 4 or 5 large shitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1/3 cup pesto (recipe follows)
  • Pepper


  1. Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes; place in a large pot of water; bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, saute green beans and shitake mushrooms until cooked.  Set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 8 ounces penne or other short tubular pasta; return to a boil; cook according to directions on box; set aside 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cooking liquid before draining pasta
  4. Drain pasta and add green beans, shitake mushrooms, and potatoes.  Then add 1/3 cup pesto and 1/4 to 1/3 reserved cooking liquid to pasta.  Stir well to ensure that everything is coated.

Pesto Recipe (adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen)


1/3 cup walnut halves
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh black pepper (to finish)

Add walnuts and garlic pulse everything into fine crumbs.  Add the basil, parsley, thyme, salt, nutritional yeast and water and process until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides at least once to make sure you get everything. Stream in the olive oil and blend until well combined.   Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.


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