Sunday, November 27, 2011

TOASTED PISTACHIO PESTO


My belly is still recovering from overindulging in a delicious Thanksgiving feast. How about yours?  Every year I am shocked to be hungry in the days after Thanksgiving. But here I am, back in the kitchen, ready for more.

Speaking of thanks, topping my list of things to be thankful for this year (and the list is long!) is...  my mom is healthy and cancer-free after a very scary couple of months.  I continue to be awed by her strength, attitude, grace, and resilience. When I brought her home after her second surgery last month, I told her I'd cook anything she craved. She wanted pesto. The sweet, funky, grocery store in her little town doesn't always stock pine nuts, but they did have some really good, roasted, organic pistachios from a farm nearby. I was inspired. I whipped up some chunky, rustic, and super flavorful pesto for my hungry mom. I was sure to pack in an extra dose of love in this meal knowing how essential every bite is to her healing process. She wolfed down her bowl of pistachio pesto pasta and continued to crave and eat bowls of pesto pasta for days. I was so honored to feed my mom.

I've been playing around with this recipe ever since. I tried adding some lemon zest and that didn't work. I substituted parsley for basil - success. I thought sweet and nutty Piave would be a great partner to the standard Parmesan and it was. I also ended up loving the addition of whole pistachios, leaves of parsley, and extra grated cheese to be scattered over the platted pesto pasta - the varied texture of the deconstructed pesto elements gives this classic a refreshing new life.

Like pretty much all of the recipes I share with you, this one is only as good as its ingredients. The pistachios need to be flavorful, the parsley fresh and perky, and the cheese delicious. I hope this recipe nourishes you as it did my mom.


INGREDIENTS (printable recipe)
  • pasta of your liking
  • 1 1/4 cups pistachios, roasted (or if raw follow my roasting suggestions below)
  • 1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Piave (if you cannot find Piave, you can just use Parmesan)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (plus some extra for the table)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste



Heat a large pot of pasta water while you make the pesto.

If you are using raw pistachios, do the following.... Heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove top. Toss in the raw pistachios and give them a shake occasionally to ensure even browning. It should take about 10 minutes to toast the pistachios this way.

Set pistachios aside to cool. They will firm up a bit as they cool to room temp.

For garnish later, set aside 1/4 cup of roasted whole pistachios, 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.

Get out your blender. Place 1 cup cooled pistachios in the blender and pulse until the nuts are very coarsely chopped. (I think this coarse texture really makes the dish). Add 3/4 cup parsley leaves and pulse again a few times to blend. Add just enough olive oil to make the mixture move - about 1/2 cup. Add garlic, 1 cup grated cheese, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Barely blend in order to preserve that coarse texture. Taste to see if you'd like additional salt or pepper. Add if needed.

Cook your pasta.

Scoop pesto onto piles of warm pasta. Scatter a few whole pistachios and parsley leaves over each plate. Pass the grated cheese, salt, pepper grinder, and even a little dish with extra pesto.

Enjoy!


makes about 1 cup of pesto - enough dress 4-5 generous servings of pasta. (I have to tell you, I had some pesto leftover and slathered it onto roasted pork loin. Damn, it was good!)

41 comments:

  1. I've used pistachios in a pesto before, combining it with arugula, and I really loved it. A simple but great dish.

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  2. Ooooh Dajana, arugula with pistachio sounds great! Two of my favorite flavors:)
    -E

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  3. Marvelous! I love pistachio. so this pesto sounds wonderful. The use of parsley is also great.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. First - I am so happy that your Mom is healthy. Good health is priceless! What a special recipe for your mom and I bet that each bite was just divine. Love the substitution for pinenuts. Have a great week ahead!
    Lisa

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  5. Thanks Rosa:)

    Thank you, Lisa. I really am grateful for my mom's health. What a huge scare that was!
    I hope your Thanksgiving was really good.... I am sure it was!

    -E

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  6. Ooh what a gorgeous idea! Glad to hear your mum is getting better - food made with love definitely has healing powers.

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  7. If we don't have our health, we really have nothing. So glad your mother is a fighting lady. Go mom!

    I'm intrigued by all the pestos made with different kinds of nuts--never tried pistachio, though! It's on the list.

    xo

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  8. What wonderful news to hear about your mom. That must have felt so special to prepare something she truly craved. What a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration for you and your family this year.

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  9. Emma, so true... I am convinced that love makes food taste better and is always more nurturing.

    Adrianna, Thanks! Mom is such a rock star;) Wow. And I too am into this endless varieties of pesto possibilities. I gotta say, the pistachio thing really works!

    Sarah, everyone at our table was extra thankful this year. Cancer is powerful at putting everything into perspective. We feel incredibly lucky that mom has made it through this ordeal - she is amazing.

    -E

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  10. This looks and sounds great! I love trying out new pasta dishes, pesto is always great.

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  11. This looks like a delicious pasta dish. Pasta is my favorite comfort food. And your photos are beyond amazing!

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  12. Natashia, I hope you like the pesto!

    Thanks Mama's Gotta Bake. I so appreciate the compliment:)

    -E

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  13. Happy to hear your Mom is feeling better...I can't imagine how frightening that must have been. What a beautiful bowl of pasta - must try pesto with pistachios! Plus, how fun is that to say?!

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  14. I can't imagine a more healing slave than the love you infuse in your cooking. Blessed be Mama Jill and those that love her. xoxoxox Renee

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  15. Hey Renee(sweetsugarbean), thanks! You're right...it's fun saying "pistachio.parsley.piave.pesto.pasta." A tongue twister;)

    And Renee, thanks so much. We feel beyond lucky that mom is well.

    xo
    E

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  16. I will never eat another bite of turkey again in my life (ok, I will eat more in one year), but I am more than happy to eat portion after portion of this fantastic pesto. The pistachios provide such a nice twist on this beloved classic.

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  17. What a lovely dish. I love pistachios and you're after my heart using cast iron skillet. Now, pasta wouldn't be so bad if I just ate that small portion.

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  18. Paulie, maybe you should try to ease up on the turkey binge next year;)

    Angela, I know. I know. It is so hard to not gobble down a huge plate of pasta. Though i have to tell you, after one reasonably sized plate of this pesto, I get really full and satisfied.

    xo
    E

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  19. I like the pistachio on pistachio action on this pasta. The final garnish of whole pistachios makes it even more nutty tasting and prettier to behold.

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  20. What wonderful news about your mum, and what a lovely simple dish to celebrate health, vitality and happiness. I love the use of pistachios instead of pine nuts - the colours on that plate are gorgeous.

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  21. wow...sounds scrumptiously tasty..
    just found your blog..love your space..
    stunning cliks with excellent presentation..
    happy following you..;)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

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  22. This is an incredible pesto, and the craving for it continues!

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  23. Pretty. Food. Good. - thanks!

    Carolyn, the double duty pistachio thing is really working for me. I'm off to the store now to get supplies for another batch:)

    thelittleloaf, thanks for the kindness about my mom. So appreciated!

    xo
    E

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  24. Loved reading this one E. The thought of your Mom hungry, happy, healthy makes me feel so good. Been sending love your way. Pesto looks fan.
    Darci

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  25. Oops I meant *fab*

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  26. I'm glad to hear your Mom is doing better. This pesto sounds yummy! That 1st photo is gorgeous, hm.. I wish I'm sitting at that table :).

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  27. Thanks Darce! So good to hear from you. I miss you guys!

    Jenn, thanks:) The pesto really is good! I'm making more tomorrow.

    xo
    E

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  28. oh my...this looks just about perfect! :)

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  29. Pasta is my lifeblood. And pesto is like water to me. So necessary. A strange analogy, maybe, but damn I love the delicious simplicity of pasta. And pistachios! They fit into that analogy somehow too.

    I believe you made a comment a while back about someone being ill? If this was your mom you were referring to, I'm glad you'll be able to rest a bit easier these days. I'm sure her spirits are greatly improved as well !

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  30. Thanks Alexis!

    Emma, yes it was my mom who was ill a while back - so sweet of you to remember. And man oh man am I grateful she is doing so so well. And I'm with you about pesto. Somehow pasta with pesto is just so comforting, right? I hope your thesis writing is coming along:)

    xo
    E

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  31. This is my first visit to your blog, the photo and the ingredients of this pesto drew me in. I love cooking with pistachios, the color and flavor is so unique.
    I can remember cooking for my mother when she had cancer...toward the end of her life she really didn't want to eat much of anything, and I made her an apricot tart that she just devoured. It's one of my happiest memories of a difficult time.
    Glad to have found your blog, I'll be back!

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  32. Sue, what a touching comment about the apricot tart you made for your mom. It's amazing and poignant to me how a food can evoke such memories.
    I will never forget the omelet my mom made for me the morning after my son was born. It was the best tasting thing I've eaten. Birth and death - those are the big moments in life.

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  33. Wow Erin, I absolutely LOVE that first photo. It's so beautiful!!! And this looks like such a delicious dish.

    Congratulations on your Mum being cleared of cancer. That must be such a relief for you and your family. I understand how scary things like that are as my Grandmother is battling breast cancer at the moment. It's so amazing the courage and the strength that comes out in people when they face something like that.

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  34. What a beautiful meal to make for your mother. The pistachios and parsley sound delicious in a pesto. I'd love to have this for dinner tonight!

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  35. So glad to hear your mom is doing better! This pesto looks great. I haven't made a pistachio pesto, so this is definitely on my must-make list.

    I, too, am always surprised at my appetite after Thanksgiving. I feel like I should not feel like any big meals for days, but I always end up craving something! :)

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  36. Jennifer, Thanks for your kind words. I wish your grandmother good health. It is amazing what is being done in the field of breast cancer today - so much hope there.

    Lisa, We made the pesto again yesterday and it was so darned good. I was scraping bits of pesto from the blender and eating it by the spoonful!

    Laura, Thanks! I'm glad you can relate about Thanksgiving... still feeling a little full over here, but it's not stopping me;)

    xo
    E

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  37. beautiful to read about you feeding your mom. and with piave cheese! my favorite, as you know.

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  38. I couldn't believe when i first saw it. Pistachio in spaghetti??! But it all make sense. Crunchy, slightly salty and yet sweet pistachios with cheese and creamy and soft spaghetti... Just delicious! why aren't these ever in menus?!

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  39. Phyllis - every time I eat Piave, I think about you. It is friggin delish - thanks for introducing me.xxxxxoooo

    Jesica- I know pistachio is unexpected in pasta at first, but then when you eat it makes so much sense;) Thanks so much for stopping by.

    E

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  40. That looks delicious!

    This is a really touching post, so glad to hear that your mom is doing well and that you were helping her heal. Feeding loved ones is so rewarding

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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