11
Apr
11

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

I think nuts should be a bigger part of the average American diet. They are naturally tasty, they come in all different varieties, and many kinds of nuts have a lot to offer nutritionally. What’s your favorite kind?

Where my personal tastes are concerned, I’ve always found that my favorite nuts to eat are the ones that have the lowest nutritional value. On one end of the nut spectrum, we have walnuts. They’re full of fiber, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and be good for the heart. Too bad I think they look like larvae and their texture, to me, seems stale. On the other end of the nut spectrum: peanuts. (Technically a legume, I know…) They’re sweet and tasty, fun to shell, and don’t even get me started on the butter…but alas, peanuts are high in fat and calories.

I’ve always assumed that pistachios, being almost as rich and versatile as peanuts, probably had little to offer nutritionally. That’s why I was surprised when I recently learned that pistachios actually have a lot of the same health benefits as walnuts! What good news! (Though anyone who reads this blog can tell you that poor nutritional value won’t necessarily stop me from eating something I like.)

In honor of my new favorite nut, I made a pistachio pesto. I think it would be good plain, on bread, in a sandwich, and probably lots of other ways that are more creative than those. Today, I just added it to some pasta and trust me, I’ll be making this again!

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

(makes a little more than 1 cup of pesto)

1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled*

2 cups spinach

1/4 cup fresh parsley

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

1-2 tbs water

salt and pepper, to taste

*Hopefully you can find the shelled ones at the store…otherwise, you’ll have to remove the shells yourself.

For two servings of pasta:

about 2 tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 large handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 servings of your favorite kind of pasta (I used fettucini)

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they’re pretty finely ground. Add the rest of your pesto ingredients and process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner pesto, you can add a little more water. I kept mine pretty thick though, figuring I’d thin it out later if I needed to.

To make the pasta, boil some water and add the noodles. A few minutes before they are done, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. When they seem softer and more translucent, add some pistachio pesto to the pan and mix. For two servings of pasta, I only used about 1/4 cup of my pesto.

Drain the pasta when it’s finished, reserving a couple tablespoons of the water to help thin the pesto.

Add the pasta and water to the pesto, garlic, and shallot. Toss to combine. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and toss again.

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