What Is Pesto Avvantaggiato?

French beans, a key ingredient in pesto avvantaggiato

Short answer
Translating as "advantageous pesto" and hailing from Liguria in the north of Italy, pesto avvantaggiato is the name given to a classic dish made with trenette pasta, basil pesto, green beans, and potatoes.

Long answer
The Disney-Pixar smash hit Luca introduced a whole new generation to trenette al pesto, a curious dish that is colloquially known as pesto avvantaggiato. You'll find it served in pretty much every restaurant in pesto's homeland, Liguria. The first time we ordered it from a tiny, unassuming trattoria in Genoa, we were seriously skeptical. After all, everyone knows that pasta is loaded with carbohydrates, so why on earth would anyone want to add even more carbs to the dish in the form of potatoes?

Yukon gold potatoes

On the face of it, pesto avvantaggiato as a dish shouldn't work. Potato and pasta are not ingredients we would ever have thought to pair together, and the idea of consuming that much starch in one sitting doesn't immediately appeal. If you have a chance to try it though, do so without a moment's thought. We're still completely flummoxed about how the combination works, but somehow it just does, and the potatoes bring a wonderful creaminess to proceedings.

Imported trenette pasta from Liguria, Italy

If you want to have a go at making it at home, your choice of pasta shape is entirely up to personal preference, although any shape that hails from Liguria is a safe bet. Trenette is the most traditional shape of all, but notoriously hard to track down outside of Italy. Linguine or fettuccine make for suitable substitutes, although gnocchi, trofie, and corzetti also hail from Liguria and make for an authentic choice.

As for potatoes, many people swear by using russet potatoes due to their extremely high starch content, which helps to emulsify the sauce, although we favour a slightly less starchy alternative such as Yukon Golds.

Ligurian Trenette pesto pasta with potatoes and green beans

How to make pesto avvantaggiato
This dish is great for anyone who doesn't like washing up, as everything is cooked in the same pot. It's very straightforward. Just top and tail the beans, peel some potatoes, cut them into 3cm cubes, and put them in a saucepan of generously salted boiling water. Three minutes before the vegetables are cooked, add your fresh pasta, and continue cooking until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Transfer to a mixing bowl, stir through the pesto, and grate some Parmesan on top.