Pistachio Pesto Pasta – a Sicilian Classic

March 13, 2013

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and thought it fit right in to our Pasta Wednesday theme – easy, throw together quickly, healthy and delicious – even if it is hard to say!  It reminded me of another no-cook pasta sauce we posted a couple of years ago that had a variety of nuts but basically the same approach.  This recipe is a little less fancy, qualifying it for a perfect weeknight meal.  I love cooking with mint and nuts which are ubiquitous ingredients in Sicilian cooking.  (I must take a trip there one day.)  The quantities listed made a lot of pesto so I had a chance to experiment with different pastas.  I had it as a main dish on bow-tie pasta served with a salad.  I served, as you see in the photo, as a side dish to salmon. While  I liked it both ways, it’s very rich so I thought is was better as a side dish.  An Italian white wine is a perfect match, even better if you can find one from Sicily where they are a little on the richer side.

1/2 pound pasta makes 3 main and 4 side servings

1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled

3/4 cup diced plum tomato (2 tomatoes)

1 large garlic clove or 2 small

a handful of fresh mint leaves

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

a handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1/2-1 pound dried pasta, whole wheat recommended

Pulse the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed.  Turn into a bowl and add the olive oil.  Stir until creamy, a bit like chunky peanut butter.  Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain and rinse the pasta.  Return to the pot and add 1/2 cup of the pesto per 1/2 pound pasta.  Add a little of the pasta water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Add enough of the pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Keep on the heat to heat through before serving.

NOTE:  The pesto can be refrigerated and used at a later date or used as a sandwich spread.

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