Got too many runner beans? This lovely pesto will use up loads!

If you grow runner beans, you may well have times, like me,  when you are a bit overwhelmed with them and don’t know what else to do with them.

Runner beans

Personally, I think home frozen runners are vile. I’ve tried numerous different ways of preserving them and haven’t liked any of them, so now we just enjoy them in season.

This recipe is inspired by the rather wonderful blog. I’ve just changed the nuts used and given quantities in a different way.

Runner Bean Pesto

200g runner beans
2 cloves garlic, or equivalent
35g pine nuts
10g grated Parmesan
zest and juice of half a lemon
60ml olive oil
Half tsp salt and a good grinding of pepper

Cook the beans in the minimum of water, until cooked through. Drain and cool.

Cooked runner beans
Whizz everything together to a smooth pesto.
Store in a clean jam jar or similar. Will keep in the fridge for a week, or freeze.

Pesto ingredients



This is wonderful on toast, muffins or crispbread for breakfast: with warm strips of buttery pitta for lunch, or pitta slices and crudités, or in a sandwich, for a packed lunch. Stir it through pasta, perhaps with semi dried tomatoes, top a jacket potato and serve with a side salad, or layer flavours with more runners as part of dinner.

Oddly, it doesn’t taste of runners much at all, so may be a good way to get some greens in people who don’t like them. It tasted fresh from the lemon,  very garlicky, so if you don’t like it much, I would use half a clove, or leave it out. It looks like I have used 4 cloves in the picture, which I suppose I have, but they are very small ones. I couldn’t taste the nuts much, but pine nuts are very mild and they would have been in there in the flavour mix. If you want a stronger nut flavour, I would use walnuts or peanuts.

Whenever I make something like this, I tend to leave the processor to run for a couple of minutes as I like the creaminess from the emulsification.

I would also use this with value cream cheese in any of the suggestions above. It would make a good veg layer in a veg lasagna. Or on the bottom of  a dish, with a meat or veg mix over, and topped with a savoury  crumble mix

Runner bean pesto


If you want a nut free version, perhaps for school, who don’t allow nuts, leave them out, or use nutritional yeast, another tblsps Parmesan
Other possible flavour additions include a squeeze of anchovy paste, or a tblsp of fish sauce: curry powder (not paste unless you cook it off first): miso of any variety: make it vegan by replacing the Parmesan with another umami flavour.

This would work very well made with any firm vegetable. So, carrots, beetroot, turnip, swede, broad beans, celery, celeriac. If runners work, cabbage probably would too. Light, white summer cabbage, or dark green kale or savoys. Leeks would be good too

To use various vegetables from fridge, vegetable box, garden or allotment, and for different flavour combinations, leave out the runner beans and try

  • carrots and orange juice and zest to replace the lemon
  • celery and fennel seeds
  • beetroot and orange juice and zest instead of lemon
  • kale and walnuts, and perhaps a tblsp of raisins
  • white cabbage, a bit more lemon zest and hazelnuts, or cashews
  • spinach, sultanas and pine nuts for a Sicilian flavour
  • savoy, nutmeg and a tsp of tomato purée to make it Milanese
  • fennel, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
  • cauliflower, parsley and a tsp tomato purée
  • or of course, any combination of veg that you have. Mix it up!

Cant wait to try the next version now!




Thrifty Lesley has an associated Facebook Group. Do come over and say hello if you haven’t already joined. I’d love to see you!

I’m a perpetual dieter, and to help with that endeavour, there is now also a Thrifty Lesley dieting group, a lovely, growing community.



  1. Lesley

    Thank you so much Bethan. I went to WI this afternoon and they had asked for runner bean recipes, so I took this recipe. And we’re having some beans with dinner this evening, my husband was slicing them up, and I said not to chuck the slightly tough ones, as I’ll use them to make this pesto.
    They’re nearly all gone now, what’s left is pretty end of season. Just a few more to enjoy this year.

  2. Bethan

    Hi Lesley

    I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and put one portion in the freezer and had the other with chicken and pasta last week. It was absolutely delicious and great to know that I can utilise the last of my runner beans instead of just adding them to the compost.

    Love your website – you’ve given me lots of food for thought about various bits and pieces. Thank you.

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