I’ve recently discovered that I have a sensitivity to pine nuts. Darn! That means no pesto for me. However, I never knew that pesto can be made with other types of nuts – and sometimes, not even with basil. This pesto pasta is made with mint and pistachios! Who knew!? Another recipe from David Burtka. He made it as a side to go with the Tangerine Chicken Under a Brick, which is amazing. Click HERE for that recipe. This pasta is delicious. My son, who does not like cheese, couldn’t get enough of it. The combination of cheese, lemon and mint is fabulous and unexpected. Give this one a try – I think you’ll love it.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bowtie pasta (farfalle)
4 cups packed fresh mint leaves (about 4 1/2 ounces), plus several whole leaves for garnish
3 tablespoons (about 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted toasted pistachios
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 2 1/2-ounce wedge pecorino, plus 1 handful grated, for garnish
Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
A dollop of unsalted butter, optional
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions for al dente pasta.
Meanwhile, put the mint leaves, pistachios and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. While still pulsing, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Remove the lid and use your hands to break up the wedge of pecorino into small chunks and add them to the food processor along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined but there are still small pieces of pecorino throughout the mixture. (You do not want to blend too much because it will cause the mint to brown.) Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer the pesto to a large high-sided skillet. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, use a large slotted spoon to lift the pasta out of the pot and directly into the skillet. Stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the excess water from the pasta has evaporated and some of the pecorino has started to melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and butter if using. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer to a large platter and garnish with the grated pecorino and whole mint leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To toast pistachios, spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees F until fragrant and beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool before adding to the food processor.