Make Ahead

Classic Pistachio Pesto, and variations with herbs

September 25, 2013
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  • Makes about 3/4 cup
Author Notes

When my aunt visits Lampedusa - a tiny stretch of land just south of Sicily, we can hardly wait for her to come back. That is because we love her, of course, but it is also because she brings back these brilliant, delicious green jewels that are Bronte pistachios. Pesto seems like a great way to make those jewels sparkle.

Add the herbs to your liking. Although this is a classic recipe, the great thing about pesto is that you can pretty much tweak it the way you want. That is why I didn't add many measurements for the herbs, just build up the flavor as you go.

Enjoy! —Valentina Solfrini

What You'll Need
  • Classic Pistachio Pesto:
  • 5.6 ounces (about 160 grams) Pistachios, shelled
  • 1.4 ounces (about 40 grams) Almonds or Pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 tablespoon Grated Pecorino (or use more Parmesan)
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (OPTIONAL) Small garlic clove
  • Herbs for variations:
  • 1 bunch Basil (15 leaves or so), or
  • 1 bunch Sage, or
  • 2 sprigs Marjoram, or
  • A mix of all the above and your favorite herbs
  1. First, toast the nuts and rub them in a towel to get rid of the skins. You can add the nuts to an oven preheated to 390F? (200C?), arrange them in one layer and check them often, until fragrant and golden.
  2. If using a blender: Just add all the ingredients but the oil to a food processor, and blitz to chop everything up. The garlic is a little too strong for the delicate pistachio flavor, and that is why many recipes do not include it. I suggest you only add it if you are a fan of garlic. As for the herbs, add them a little at a time and check if you're satisfied with the results. Start with a small bunch, and build up the pesto to your liking. Add the oil a little at a time, until you get to a rough pesto consistency, until everything gets creamy. You might need more or less oil. Check for salt.
  3. If using a mortar and pestle: I you're using the garlic, pound it first with a pinch of salt. If not, add the herbs at this point (if using any - see step above), and salt, and start pouning in a circular motion to release the essential oils in the herbs. Then add the nuts and cheese, followed by the oil, which you should add a little at a time. Once everything is nice and creamy, stop adding the oil - You might not need it all, or you might need more.
  4. The pesto will keep well in the fridge for quite a while. To store properly, make sure it is completely covered in oil. To extend its shelf life even further, only add the cheese the moment you are planning to use it. This way it will probably keep for about 3 months.
  5. POSSIBLE USES: - Dress pasta, of course! This is enough for about 6 people. - Use as a pizza or baked flat bread topping, - Use as a sandwich, bruschetta or wrap spread, - Add to dressings, - Add to soups, frittatas, or any food, really. It is delicious with everthing.

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24 Year old Italian web dev, Graphic and UI designer who, like many designers, got seduced by food photography. I talk to way too many random people when in New York and to way too many random animals when I'm in the Italian countryside. I run, a blog about Italian, natural vegetarian cooking.

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