Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Delicioso- Pistachio Pesto and Pasta

One of my favourite Kelowna Italian restaurants, Casa Sasso, introduced me to this pasta dish.  I was hooked- it is delicious.  Gaby, the owner/chef at Casa Sasso, is keeping her recipe top secret.  And, I don't blame her- it is wonderful.

My version is based on a recipe from a great little pasta cookbook entitled "100 Ways to be Pasta" and  "tweaked".  The pistachio pesto provides an unexpected great flavour for the pasta, not the usual tomato or cream sauce we are accustomed to.  This pasta dish is quick and easy to make with a little help from the food processor.

To serve 4

5     garlic cloves
1     cup whole basil leaves
1     cup Italian parsley
2     cups shelled, toasted (in a dry pan) pistachios, divided - 1 cup for the pesto and 1 cup for garnish
1/4  cup pinenuts
1     cup extra virgin olive oil
1     tsp salt, plus more for the pasta water
3     tbsp unsalted butter
3/4  lb dry pasta- tagliatelle, linguine, penne or farfelle
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put the garlic, basil, pistachios, pine nuts, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt into the bowl of the food processor, fitted with a metal blade, and blend.  Gradually pour the rest of the oil through the feed tube until all the ingredients are integrated into a paste with a slightly coarse texture.  The pesto should be fluid, not hard or dry.  Keep adding olive oil until you have a runny paste.

Place the pesto in a large serving bowl, reserving a large spoonful.  Place the butter on top of the pesto.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Stir in a fistful of salt, a splash of olive oil and the pasta.  Cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is al dente.  Lift the pasta from the pot and into the bowl with the pesto and butter.  Add a splash of pasta water and toss the pasta until the butter is melted and the pasta is coated.  Add the rest of the pistachios (1 cup) and toss again.  Dust with Parmesan cheese and serve very hot, with more Parmesan at the table.

Add cooked shrimp to your dish.  Or lightly brown cubed chicken until cooked through and add to the pasta, then toss.

You can also play with the proportion of basil and parsley- if you want more or less basil flavour.

Double or triple the pesto recipe, freeze in ice cube trays and you have an almost instant dinner!  Just try to thaw the pesto in the refrigerator at least a few hours before using.


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