Ahhhhhh Sicily….it’s Summer over there at the moment and my cousins keep posting photos of themselves enjoying their Summer Holidays – Sicilian Style – which basically means five things. BEACH. FRIENDS. FOOD. PARTIES. SLEEP INS. And then they do it all again the next day, and the next, and the next….it’s basically a couple of months of GLORIOUS. Anyway I’ll stop daydreaming to bring you this recipe for a really yummy pasta I have when I visit. It’s called Pasta with Pistachio and the sauce is similar to a pesto except it’s made with ground pistachio nuts meal instead of basil. Now in Sicily, you can find packets of finely ground pistachio nuts in the supermarket because Sicilians use lots of pistachios in their cooking. I have found it in Italian Grocery and specialty stores here in Australia but I’m not going to lie – it’s hard to find! So, I just get a bag of whole, raw, unsalted, peeled pistachios and finely grind them myself in the food processor. EASY. Give this a try because it’s delicious, different and has an amazing bright green colour. (Green is my favourite colour!)
PASTA WITH PISTACHIO PESTO
4 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion (grated)
200g finely diced speck (or you can use bacon) IF YOU’RE VEGETARIAN LEAVE THIS OUT
450g pistachio nuts (raw, peeled, unsalted)
500g pasta (DON”T use spaghetti – use penne or rigatoni because the sauce is quite thick)
1/4 cup reserved liquid that pasta is cooked in
A good pinch of salt
Lots of grated parmesan cheese and a few chopped pistachio nuts for garnish
First put the water on for your pasta and get that cooking – this sauce doesn’t take long!
Second, grind your pistachio nuts. I do it in a little food processor – the finer the grind the better but don’t panic if there’s a few chunky bits. (I always keep a few whole pistachios to garnish the pasta with at the end).
Third – lets make the pesto sauce by gently frying the grated onion in olive oil until soft. (DON’T brown and crisp the onion – you want the onion to melt into the rest of the sauce, to be nice and soft so it adds flavour not texture. THAT IS, you don’t want to see the onion in the sauce – it should just melt into the sauce). Next add chopped speck or bacon and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the ground pistachios and cook for a couple of minutes. This mixture will be thick and lumpy. Add the cream, salt and pepper then take off the heat.
Before straining the pasta carefully scoop out a quarter of a cup of the cooking liquid. Strain then add to the pistachio sauce. Put it back on the heat, add the cooking liquid and give it a good stir. Season with Salt.
Lastly, SERVE and EAT IMMEDIATELY with lots of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. YUMMY YUMMY!!