Monday, January 9, 2012

Pistachio Pasta

photo from
The pistachio nut is not a food that I was very familiar with before moving to Italy.  My only experience with pistachio flavor was pudding from a box.  While growing up my mom would make a layered dessert with pistachio pudding for my dad on special occasions.  I couldn't stand that stuff. It really turned me off to anything pistachio. Soon after moving to Sicily I discovered pistachio gelato (ice cream). The gelato was super delicious and opened up a whole new world of green nutty goodness. Pistachio is one of Italy's most popular flavors and they pride themselves in the plethora of foods that contain the delectable nut.  In the voice of Bubba Gump, "Dey's uh pistachio gelato, pistachio pasta, pistachio cakes, pistachio candy (torrone), pistachio pesto, pistachio creme, pistachio crepes, pistachio cannoli, pistachio liquor, pistachio arancini (rice balls) pistachio salami. That, that's about it."  I am sure there is more that I am leaving out.

Italians dedicate entire festivals to particular foods including strawberry, artichoke, lemon, almond, gelato, ricotta, onion, wine, olives, and more. In October of every year, Bronte, Sicily hosts a pistachio festival. It is one of the largest food festivals in Sicily. In 2010 we enjoyed the festival with some of our Italian friends. This past October we attempted to go with my in-laws, but after sitting in traffic for about 3 hours we turned around and went home. Although we didn't make it to the festival, we enjoyed some quality family time in the car :)

Here are some pics from the 2010 festival.

Merchant making torrone which is similar to peanut brittle, but made with pistachios
Torrone before being cut

Torrone - This stuff is addictive!

Italians even have pistachio jeans ;)

Salami and Jello Pistachio

The white sign says, "eggplant with pistachio pesto". The yellow sign says, "horsemeat sandwich"!

 The recipe that I would like to share with you is for Pistachio Pasta. This recipe comes from the Italian cooking school I attended two years ago. It is super simple to make and so delicious. I cooked this for my in-laws when they were here in the fall and they really enjoyed it.

Pistachio Pasta

400 grams or about 1 pound penne pasta 
100 grams or 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
50 grams or 1/4 cup chopped onions
200 grams panna or about 7 ounces heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
30 grams or 2 tablespoons butter
20 grams or 1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Finely chop the onion and sauté in olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the chopped pistachios, salt and pepper, and cream. Heat, but do not allow to boil. Meanwhile cook pasta in boiling salted water, allow it to cook until it is al dente. Drain then mix with pistachio sauce. Stir in parmesan to taste.

As an option you can add some pancetta (Italian bacon).

photo from
Fry it in the pan prior to sautéing onions. Remove pancetta and sauté onions in pancetta grease, oil, and butter then follow the recipe as written adding the pancetta back in with the pistachios. It adds a nice flavor and satisfies the carnivores in the family.
Buon Appetito! 



  1. Ohhhhhh..... I love this stuff!!! I'll be making this! Thank you for the recipe!

    I'd love to hear more about the cooking school you attended. I plan to do that while we're here!

  2. Your welcome! The cooking school was great. I learned alot and have a binder full of Italian recipes. I highly recommend the class.