orecchiette with pistachios

pasta is often part of my weekly menu and i’m always keen to try new and different recipes – there are already 80 pasta recipes on this blog! this orecchiette with pistachios caught my eye for two reasons – david’s love of pistachios and the fact that i thought it might look beautiful, with the green and pink of the pistachio nuts flecking the finished dish.

it’s very quick and simple to make – while the pasta cooks chopped pistachios are mixed, into a rough “pesto” with garlic, mint olive oil and parmesan. needless to say, i couldn’t resist fiddling about with the basic recipe – for a second batch i toasted my pistachios which gave them a bit more crunch. i also added red chilli for some heat and lemon zest to work with the mint in lightening everything up. a squeeze of lemon juice will probably be something else to try in future and i bet it would work wonderfully with roasted garlic. i also fancy trying a toasted walnut, sage and blue cheese version.

this is a rich dish with gentle comforting flavours and needs, i think, a salad on the side to balance it out – i used a rocket, spinach and watercress mix with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic dressing.

i’m sharing this dish with nic from lemon and cheese who is hosting this week’s presto pasta nights. and if you fancy giving it a try, get cooking and let me know how you get on as i’ll be hosting presto pasta nights next week!

orecchiette with pistachios* (serves 4)

orecchiette for four

75-100g pistachios

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

1 medium garlic clove, crushed to a paste

zest of a lemon

a small amount of finely chopped red chilli

extra-virgin olive oil

25-40g finely grated parmesan

freshly grated black pepper

4 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces then thinly sliced lengthwise (white and light green parts only)**

cook your pasta.

toast the pistachios in a dry pan, over a medium heat, for a few minutes – move them around regularly and don’t let them brown. remove and leave to cool then chop roughly (i bashed mine in a pestle and mortar so i got a mix of different sized pieces).

mix the pistachios with the mint, garlic, lemon zest, chilli (adjust quantities of this to suit your own tastes) and a large glug of olive oil. add the parmesan and more oil if it is needed (you want quite a dry pesto). season to taste – i needed to add quite a lot of both salt and freshly ground black pepper.

when the pasta is ready, add c100ml of the cooking water to your pesto. drain the rest of the pasta and mix, in the pan, with the pistachio mix. serve with the spring onions sprinkled on top and with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

* found online and originally adapted from the frankies spuntino kitchen companion & cooking manual

** i was sceptical about the value of adding the spring onions but they do add something good to the finished dish