Pesto packs a particular type of punch, and it can really elevate the flavor in your pastas, soups and sandwiches. In traditional Genovese pesto, the heat of raw garlic and the boldness of fresh basil are fused with creamy pignoli nuts, fruity olive oil and tangy Parmesan.
In this quick and insanely delicious recipe from Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, toasted pistachios are coarsely chopped and combined with lots of fresh mint, extra-virgin olive oil, and pecorino. Fresh mint has a vivid and elusive flavor, and pairs well with the other Sicilian ingredient in this dish: pistachios. I added some lemon zest and hot red pepper flakes for brightness and spice. When tossed with some al dente pasta, these ingredients become a unique dish of contrasting flavors and textures. Ear-shaped orecchiette is the perfect pasta here, because they act as little bowls, scooping up the coarse pesto. Pair with a crisp, minerally white wine, like Pinot Grigio or Orvieto, and you will be loving life.
Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto
From The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual
7 oz unsalted roasted shelled pistachios (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tblsp chopped mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths and julienned
zest from 1 lemon (optional)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb orecchiette
1. In a food processor, chop the pistachios. Add the olive oil, mint, garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the 1/2 cup cheese and the scallions; season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cooking water and the pesto and cook over low heat, tossing, until coated. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.