This Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans, and Basil is an easy weekday dinner that will make you feel like it's summer any time of year!
(This recipe for Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans, and Basil was originally published in March 2010, but was updated with new photos in 2019).
Ever have those nights where you just don't feel like cooking? Yup, I have them all the time. Either I'm too busy working late into the night to stop and whip up an amazing meal or I'm just plain beat from the day (OK, or The Bachelor or American Idol is on and the shows both last 2 hours, which takes up a good part of my night). Ahem. Anyway.
I love this Martha Stewart recipe for Spaghetti With Pancetta, Green Beans, and Basil because it's SO easy, but also quite delicious and better than just throwing a sandwich together. Plus, the green beans add a bit of nutrition... And you can always throw in some more vegetables, too, if you want. I adapted the recipe a bit, but followed it for the most part. I'm a big proponent of the idea that you don't have to spend a ton of time on dinner to make a great meal. Of course, sometimes it's fun to put a bit more time in effort in it, but some nights you want something quick, easy, and yummy. This is it.
SPAGHETTI WITH PANCETTA, GREEN BEANS, AND BASIL RECIPE
I love a recipe with only five ingredients! And when those ingredients are mostly fresh ingredients. To start this recipe, boil your water and cook the pasta. I LOVE pasta and am not ashamed to admit it. But I do generally try to eat whole wheat when I eat it. I actually think it tastes better and it gives me a tad bit less guilt if I want to stuff my face with it. Which I often do. When the pasta is done, make sure you save a cup of reserved past water as you're draining it. This will be for the sauce later.
While the pasta is boiling, cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat, until browned and crisp. Oh God, pancetta is amazing. Transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate and make sure you save about 1 T of the oil in the pan. And try NOT to eat the pancetta as you finish whipping up this meal. Also, try not to feed it to your dog. Because he/she will be begging.
Put the green beans in the skillet. Season them with salt and pepper and cook, covered, until their crisp tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer cooked pancetta and spaghetti to the skillet with the green beans and add ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Then add enough of the reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats the pasta.
Serve in bowls and top with basil and remaining parmesan. You can also add some red pepper flakes if you want. I always do! This is one of the most simple dishes in the world: spaghetti with green beans... Does it get more basic than that?? Of course, adding in salt pancetta and parmesan cheese, along with fresh and summery basil, and this meal feels like a gourmet feast. It's funny how that works.
I'm a big fan of adding basil to... everything! Even if it's in the middle of winter, basil makes me feel so summery and happy. Come to think of it, despite the fact that it's only March, this whole meal is kind of summery and I am A-OK with that. it just has me more and more excited for basil season. Of course, spaghetti with green beans and pancetta is an any time of year kind of meal.
I truly believe this dish combines some of the very best things. And it made plenty, so leftovers were in order for the following night. You know, just in case I'm feeling lazy again (or busy! I mean busy!). But seriously, sometimes I get stuck in a bit of a vicious cycle where I basically never want to get off the couch. Well, not never. Just not to cook dinner after a 12-hour workday. But I still want a delicious dinner.
So, the next time The Bachelor or American Idol are on and you can't be bothered to spend hours in the kitchen, try this recipe! OK, your taste in television is probably a lot better than mine, so fill in the blank with your own favorite television show. But if you do happen to be a fan of The Bachelor, who are you rooting for to win tonight??
If you like this easy pasta dish, be sure to check out my Angel Hair Alfredo with Jalapeño and Pancetta and my Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta. I also love this Easy Greek Pastisio from Cooking for Keeps!
Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans, and Basil
- 8 oz. spaghetti (can use whole wheat)
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced
- ¾ lb. green beans, halved
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- Red pepper flakes, for topping if desired
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente. Drain spaghetti from pot, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Add pancetta to a large skillet over medium heat and cook until meat gets crispy, about 9-10 minutes.
- Leave any oil from pancetta in skillet and add green beans. Season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, until they're tender, but still crisp, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add cooked spaghetti and pancetta to skillet, along with ½ cup parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats the pasta and toss again.
- Serve in individual bowls topped with remaining cheese and basil and red pepper flakes, if desired.
- Recipe lightly adapted from Martha Stewart