Italian Green Beans

A serving dish with Italian green beans and sliced almonds.

Italian green beans are a simple Spring and Summer side dish made with string beans, your favorite pesto, toasted almonds and shaved parmesan. This recipe is quick and easy to make and pairs well with lots of main course dishes.

A platter of Italian green beans with almonds and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Green beans are a side dish mainstay, but rather than just seasoning with a bit of butter salt and pepper, I like to dress them up with a classic Italian combination of pesto, shaved parmesan and crunchy toasted almonds.

This Italian green bean recipe is our go-to because it’s so simple, and delivers big flavor.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • It has just five ingredients.
  • Can be made ahead.
  • Can be served hot or at room temperature. (I’ll show you how to make each).
  • Italian green beans go well with chicken, pork, beef, lamb and seafood.
  • You can scale the recipe for smaller or larger groups.
  • They’re ready to eat in 15 minutes, this simple side dish is ready for the table and goes great with any grilled, roasted or pan-fried protein.


  • Green Beans – You can use regular string beans or the thin, haricots verts. Fresh beans are best.
  • Kosher Salt – for salting the water to cook the beans.
  • Pesto – Use homemade or your favorite store-bought pesto.
  • Sliced Almonds – Thinly sliced nuts work the best, because they have the perfect texture — adding a crunchiness that enhances and doesn’t compete with the beans. Avoid whole almonds.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano—A few shaves of salty, umami-rich parmesan set off the flavors in this Italian green bean recipe.

Step-by-step instructions:

Toasting almonds on a baking sheet.
  1. Arrange the sliced almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown in a 400°F oven for 5-7 minutes. Start checking at around the 5-minute point to ensure they don’t burn.

2. Trim the stalks and any browned or unsightly ends off of the beans with a sharp paring knife.

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

3. Drop them into boiling salted water for about 5 minutes until they’re crisp-tender. Fish a bean out with a pair of tongs to test for doneness. (They should be tender, but still hold their texture — and shouldn’t squeak when you chew it.)

Stirring pesto sauce to add to the cooked beans.

4. Stir the pesto to ensure it’s well mixed and add a little at a time to the green beans.

Use a pair of tongs to coat the vegetables with the sauce.

5. Use a pair of tongs to toss the Italian green beans until they’re evenly coated. Don’t over-sauce the vegetables — you only need enough to season and there shouldn’t be excess pesto in the bottom of the bowl.

Adding toasted almonds.

6. Add the toasted almonds and gently toss into the bean mixture.

Shaving parmesan cheese over the side dish.

7. Transfer the Italian green beans to a serving dish and use a vegetable peeler to shave a few shards of Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.


  • Pesto is the hero of this Italian green bean recipe. I have four pesto recipes on this site; a classic Italian Pesto with Pine Nuts, a tasty Basil Walnut Pesto, and Pistachio Pesto and Spinach Basil Pesto with Almonds. Any of these would be good here, or use a good quality store-bought sauce.
  • My tips for cooking green beans to the perfect crisp-tender texture is to
    • Make sure you have enough water in the pot for the beans to move around freely in.
    • Salt the water well, to help season the green beans.
    • Start testing for doneness at the 5-minute mark by fishing out a green bean and TASTING it. It should be crisp-tender, but not squeaky when you chew.
  • I recommend using a pair of tongs to fish a green bean out of boiling water to test for doneness and to toss with the herb sauce. Tongs act as an extension of your hand and are less clumsy than a spoon for both tasks.
Serving Italian green beans on a plate.


  • Swap parmesan cheese for Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano.
  • Try another type of Italian toasted nuts like pistachios or pine nuts.
  • Add strips of sun-dried tomato (packed in oil) for a deeper Italian vibe.
  • Sprinkle with freshly toasted breadcrumbs for extra texture.
  • Italian green beans can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. For cold and room-temp, I recommend shocking the beans in an ice water bath immediately after they’re cooked. This stops the cooking process and allows them to keep their bright green color.
  • You can use frozen beans; cook them according to the package directions and dress with pesto, nuts and cheese.


A plate of Italian beans.

Make Ahead and Storage

Make Ahead: You can make the Italian green beans earlier in the day by using the blanch and shock method (described above) and dressing the beans with the pesto. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Add the toasted almonds and cheese garnish just before serving.

Storage: You can store leftover vegetables in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, but they’re best eaten the same day you make them. The nuts can get a little soft, so if there are leftovers, I like to add some freshly toasted ones just before serving.

Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing this dish.

Dressed Italian Green Beans.

More green bean recipes to try:

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

Italian green beans with shaved parmesan and almonds.
Print Pin
3.58 from 19 votes

Italian Green Beans

This tasty vegetable side dish is easy to make and delicious, served warm or at room temperature. It can be easily scaled for small or large groups.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword green beans
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 pair tongs


  • 1 pound green beans trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt for salting the water
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • sprinkle shaved parmesan



  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Lay 3 tablespoons sliced almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant.  (I start watching the almonds at the 5-minute point to ensure they don’t burn).


  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt followed by 1 pound green beans. Cook the beans until they are crisp tender, about 4-5 minutes. Then, fish out a bean with a pair of tongs and taste for doneness. If they need more time, let them cook for 30- seconds to a minute longer and test them again.
  • Drain the beans well and let them steam dry for a minute or two.
  • Add the pesto 1-2 spoonfuls at a time and use the tongs to toss the beans in the pesto until well coated. Add more pesto if desired, but it should just coat the beans and not be too gloopy. 
  • Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and sprinkle with toasted almonds and shaved parmesan.  Serve.


  • Fill a large bowl with enough ice and water to cover the beans and set aside.
  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the kosher salt and green beans. Cook the beans until they are crisp tender, checking for doneness at about the 4-5 minute mark.
  • Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the beans to the ice water to shock them and stop the cooking process.  When the beans are cold, drain the water and pat them dry with paper towels.  
  • Add the pesto to the beans. Use tongs to toss the beans in the pesto until well coated.
  • Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and sprinkle with toasted almonds and shaved parmesan.


To make the recipe ahead of time, blanch and shock the green beans. Pat them dry and dress with the pesto sauce.
Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Add the sliced toasted almonds and cheese shavings at the last minute.


Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 367mg | Potassium: 274mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 935IU | Vitamin C: 13.9mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1.4mg

“Pin It” For Later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I thought it was pretty good. But I added 2 more tablespoons of pesto and cheese. It’s on my favorite list.

  2. 5 stars
    Green beans are my favorite vegetable. This variation is delicious. Adding it to the rotation. Thanks.

  3. 5 stars
    I have so much basil in the garden so this is perfect. Love pesto!

  4. 5 stars
    I didn’t like string beans growing up, but that was probably because we had bland canned beans. Yuck. I rediscovered them at least 10 years ago and I can’t believe how much I love fresh beans now! I love your take on the standard string bean recipe, especially with the pesto! So fresh and delicious, not to mention gorgeous!

    1. Thank you, Elaine! I remember those canned green beans from my youth too!

  5. Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food says:

    5 stars
    My hubster loves green beans too! You have given me a perfect recipe for using up two current residents of my freezer: 1) my last bit of pesto from the end of the summer and 2) my blanched haricots verts—I buy the 2-pound bags from Costco and immediately blanch, dry, vacuum seal, and freeze them in small batches. I love the addition of the slivered, toasted almonds. I just know this one will be a hit!

    1. Great tip on blanching the beans from Costco!

  6. OMG yum! This is such a great and simple idea. I adore pesto but have never put it on green beans… how have I not thought of that before?! 😉 Topped with sliced almonds and parm – sounds heavenly!

  7. 5 stars
    Well, we love green beans, we love pesto, and we love almonds. Now, why haven’t I put those all together?! Thank you for the inspiration — that is a great idea.

  8. 5 stars
    I love green beans but am always stuck on ideas for preparing them, so I’m loving this delicious recipe. Pesto is the best!!