pistachio pasta pesto

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

This pistachio pesto pasta recipe is a bit different from standard pesto recipes. Most standard pesto recipes use basil and pine nuts.  A great combination, but it’s tough to use up a whole bunch of basil when cooking for one.  Either you have to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it, or it spoils.

I do have a basil plant, but cutting enough off to make pesto would leave me without much of a plant! This is a good compromise.

Plus, pine nuts have gotten awfully expensive.  It does have some basil, but I replaced most of it with broccoli. Then I substituted pistachios for walnuts or pine nuts.

Actually, to be entirely truthful, I ‘stole’ this idea from one of Robert Parker’s Spenser novels. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. He seemed to like food as much as he enjoyed mysteries and books (my kind of author).

You get the sweet, summery taste of basil, the earthiness of  broccoli, and the crunchiness of the pistachios (use the unsalted kind).  And frankly, while I love pine nuts, they’ve gotten awfully expensive.  You can use walnuts too, if you prefer.

It’s also quick and easy to make (which is always a plus).

Pasta Pesto with Pistachios

Category: entree

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

pistachio pasta pesto

Quick pasta pesto recipe with pistachios and broccoli


  • 1/4 lb penne
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp salt
    Pesto Sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 C basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/4C broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 C shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 T grated romano cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste


  1. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Stir the pasta to keep it from sticking together. Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente (firm, but not hard).
    Instructions for Pesto Sauce:
  1. Combine the basil, broccoli, garlic, and pistachios in a mini chopper or blender. Slowly add the olive oil.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cheese, salt to taste and a generous grinding of black pepper.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander. Return the hot pasta to the saucepan, add the pesto, and stir to coat the pasta thoroughly.
  4. Pour sauced pasta into a bowl and garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh basil leaves.


You can also use this pesto recipe on chicken or fish.


Pistachio Pesto Pasta Substitutions and Variations

  • Use spinach in the pesto instead of broccoli
  • Skip the greens entirely and make a walnut pesto with walnuts, olive oil, parsley, parmesan, salt, and pepper
  • If you like your pesto spicier, add some chiles
  • Make it with walnuts instead of pistachios

Tools and Ingredients for Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Roasted Unsalted Pistachios

These are freshly roasted (unlike the stale bags you often get in the store), and already have their shells removed, so you don’t have to fuss with cracking them open. Just pour, measure, and eat.

More Pasta Recipes

Pasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe for One Person

Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Penne with Feta Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Olives


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