Saturday, April 20, 2013

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto

If you are a BLT regular, you know my fondness for orecchiette.  We loved this recent dish, jumping on the kale bandwagon.  Orecchiette with veal and capers is eaten 4-5 times a year, it's so tasty and can be enjoyed whatever the season.  When I came across this recipe, I knew 2 things- it would be a quick and delicious weeknight meal, and it definitely needed some tweaking (more garlic, more onion, double the cheese please).  If you like pistachio and you like cool pasta shapes, give this one a go.  Did you know orecchiette means 'little ears' in Italian? Maybe I love this pasta so much because I have little ears??

My preferred way to eat pistachios, if not right from the shell, is when they are decorating the protruding cheesy ends of a cannoli.  Modern Pastry, in the very Italian North End neighborhood of Boston, makes the best cannolis on the planet.  Want to argue that? Leave your comment!

Here is another pistachio and pasta dish, highly recommended for your summer dining pleasure.  And I even give you pistachio in cookie form. 

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto
4-5 servings

6 oz. roasted, salted pistachios, shelled (0.75 lbs with shell)
1/2 C EVOO
3 TB mint, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, green part only, cut into 1" pieces and julienned (sliced thinly lengthwise)
freshly cracked black pepper
1 C pecorino romano, freshly shredded
1 lb orecchiette

Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, you don't want giant chunks and you don't want to make a paste.  Add the mint and garlic, pulse a few times to combine.  Add the olive oil and pulse to combine, then season with freshly cracked black pepper.  Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and stir in the scallion and 1/2 C of the cheese.

Cook the pasta according to directions in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Reserve 1 C of the cooking liquid while draining when the pasta is al dente.  That's firm to the tooth, if you don't understand the Italian language.  Return the pasta back to the pot, add the pistachio pesto and 1/2 C of the cooking liquid.  Cook over low heat, stirring, until the little ears are well coated.  If you need to loosen things up a bit, add a bit of the remaining starchy water.  Serve with the remaining 1/2 C of cheese. 

Wine pairing?  Something white, dry, and crisp, with a bit of minerality.  We washed this down with a A to Z pinot gris, which is a great weeknight ($9) wine.

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