When many people think of Italian food, they imagine “red sauce” Italian–spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, meatballs. While this is unquestionably an important part of Italian cooking, it’s mostly to be found in Southern Italy and Sicily, the island just off the boot of the Italian peninsula. In the northern, mountainous parts of Italy, it’s not as much about tomatoes and olive oil as it is about dairy and hearty, stick-to-your ribs meals. This delicious pasta al pesto with great northern white beans, cream and potatoes definitely fits that bill.

We’re not going to lie to you: this is not a diet friendly meal. It’s got cream and cheese and potatoes–and it’s delicious. This is the kind of meal you want to curl up with on a cold winter’s night when the snow is falling and you don’t ever want to think about going outside again. It’s the kind of meal to eat after a long day of sledding with the kids: comforting, simple and hearty.

But don’t worry, there is nutritional value here, too. Of course, great northern beans are a fantastic source of protein, and you can customize your pesto with as many leafy veggies as you want. Kale pesto is becoming increasingly popular, as is arugula pesto. Of course, you can always use your favorite store bought pasta and it’ll still be delicious.

Finally, we can’t forget the potatoes in this dish. The small red potatoes add a fantastic texture to the dish, with the slight pop of the skin and the fluffiness of the interior. Top it all off with Parmesan cheese, and we guarantee this dish will make you a convert to Northern Italian cooking.


Pasta Al Pesto with Great Northern Beans, Cream and Potatoes


  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of Randall Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound small red potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 pound dry penne pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with the salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place the potatoes with the peel on in the pot of water and boil 10 to 15 minutes until just tender. Drain the potatoes, cool, and slice 1/4 inch thick.

Heat a frying pan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic. Sauté 30 seconds and add the potatoes and Randall Great Northern Beans. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Mix the pesto sauce with the cream and set aside.

Boil the pasta in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain well and return to the pot. Add the sautéed beans and potatoes and the pesto cream.

Toss all together and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

This recipe featuring Randall Great Northern Beans is a perfect summer side dish.