For some reason, whenever I think of pistachios, I am instantly brought back to my childhood, sitting in my parents’ lap, trying my hardest to pry open those smooth, beige shells to get at the salty-yet-somewhat-sweet greenish-violet nuts inside. A very distinct memory I have is from when I was around 6 or 7 years old, sitting at the kitchen counter at my parents’ friends’ house, chomping on pistachios and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although I can’t stomach pistachio ice cream and rarely snack on them anymore, they’ve always held a spot in my heart (along with Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge).
I recently had the urge to make some pesto, but when I was looking for the ingredients, the package of pignoli, or pine nuts, struck me as wildly expensive and probably not worth it for this one recipe. So I decided to turn to my old pal, the green machine, the shelled assassin, the Persian palate pleaser, the… wait what? Oh yes. The pistachio.
This recipe is super easy if you have a mini-food processor or blender- you can finish the pesto in the time it takes to boil the water. I added some crispy prosciutto “chips” in at the end to add some crunch as well as a fantastic saltiness that works perfectly with the garlicky tang of the pesto. I found the recipe for the pesto itself from Food.com- but I encourage you to make this your own using the fresh herbs you like most; even mint or parsley could work great here.
Gemelli with Pistachio Pesto and Crispy Prosciutto
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 cup shelled, dry roasted pistachio nuts
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 lb. gemelli-shaped pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
- 3 slices prosciutto, chopped
- Boil 5 quarts water in a deep pot. Add a generous amount of salt once boiling; add pasta and let cook for 9-10 minutes (cooking time may vary; be sure to follow directions on box).
- While pasta is cooking, place basil, cilantro, pistachios, garlic cloves, lemon zest, parmesan cheese and oil in a mini chopper or blender and puree until smooth. Feel free to add more oil if you want a smoother pesto (You can also do this step first or way in advance- I made this a few hours beforehand… and snacked on it throughout the day :-))
- In another, medium sized pan, saute prosciutto bits until crispy. Remove from heat.
- When pasta is done, drain in a colander, saving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.
- Transfer pasta back to the pot, and decrease heat to medium low. Add a half-cup of pesto in the pot, and stir in with pasta. Add pasta water to thin out the sauce a little bit.
- Stir in crunchy prosciutto chips, and serve!
A perfect meal with a lot of taste for when you’re short on time. You’ll also definitely have a lot of pesto leftover, perfect for use as a sandwich spread, cracker dip, or whatever you want- and you can freeze the leftovers for later! What’s your favorite use for pistachios?