PISTACHIO PESTO PASTA with ZUCCHINI, SPINACH, and FETA [recipe]

THIS SUMMER’S ANTHEM…IN A SAUCE

One year it was Salsa Verde.

Another year it was Green Goddess

This year, I’m pretty sure THE sauce that will appear in my meal prep every week, that will be served alongside roast salmon at every dinner party, that will be eaten straight from the container with a spoon with refrigerator door open in the middle of the night while I contemplate life’s deeper mysteries is 

Pistachio Pesto

Pistachio Pesto is herb-y. It’s bright. It’s got that certain “je ne sais umami” from toasted pistachios. And it’s also the easiest recipe to make because the pistachios I use are roasted, salted, and already shelled. Um, yes, thank you Wonderful Pistachios No Shells. 

So far I have mixed Pistachio Pesto with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells into pasta, dolloped onto hard boiled eggs for a richer quick breakfast, and drizzled onto avocado toast. And that was just Friday.  

Complete, detailed recipes for Pistachio Pesto with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells and Pistachio Pesto Pasta below, followed by cook’s notes and shopping resources. And once you’re done making Pistachio Pesto Pasta for lunch or dinner, go to this post and make Wonderful Pistachios Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Bark and Wonderful Pistachios Matcha Dark Chocolate Bark for dessert! 

This post generously sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios. Any opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Delicious Life dating and eating.

pistachio pesto pasta with spinach zucchini and feta
PISTACHIO PESTO with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells [recipe]
makes about 1 1/4 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 clove garlic, lightly crushed and inner green germ removed
1/3 cup Wonderful Pistachios No Shells
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt + more to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pulse the crushed garlic clove in a food processor until finely chopped.

Add the Wonderful Pistachios No Shells and pulse again until pistachios are finely chopped.

Add parsley and basil, pulse until chopped, then while the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.

Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pulse, then taste and adjust. The pesto will be salty from the pistachios and the salt, but not too salty. You can always add more salt to the pesto later, or season the final dish (which may have additional salt from the cheese and other ingredients).

Keep any leftover Pistachio Pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

PISTACHIO PESTO PASTA with ZUCCHINI, BABY SPINACH, and FETA [recipe]
serves 6

12 ounces pasta
1 large zucchini, cut into a shape similar to your pasta (see note)
1 cup Pistachio Pesto with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells (recipe above)
2 cups baby spinach
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
lemon juice and zest, optional

Place zucchini in the bottom of the colander you will use to drain the cooked pasta.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta into the colander with zucchini. Shake the colander to drain out as much water as possible, and give the zucchini extra time to heat.

Pour pasta and zucchini back into the pot in which you cooked it, and add baby spinach.

Toss pasta, zucchini, and baby spinach with Pistachio Pesto in the pot until everything is well-coated. Add feta cheese and very gently toss. Plate, then sprinkle with additional feta, lemon juice, and lemon zest if using.

Notes and Shopping Resources

  • Pistachios: I used Wonderful Pistachios No Shells for the Pistachio Pesto. The pistachios are already shelled, making them easy to throw into this recipe and any other pistachio recipe (and snack on, while you’re cooking!). You can find Wonderful Pistachios in their bright green package in the produce and snack aisles of most grocery stores.
  • Pesto change-o: Make this Pistachio Pesto with 1 cup of any leafy greens or herbs you have on hand to replace the parsley. Arugula makes this pesto much stronger and more peppery, baby spinach keeps the pesto pretty mild. Just be sure to keep the minimum 1/4 cup of basil; you can make the pesto with all basil, which will give the pesto that familiar pesto flavor. I do not recommend cilantro here, or ever, because cilantro is disgusting.
  • Cutting zucchini for the pasta: If you are using a short pasta like penne, slice zucchini lengthwise, then cut each half on the bias into 1/4-inch thick pieces. If you are using long pasta like spaghetti or linguine, and you happen to have a spiralizer, spiralize your zucchini into long noodles! Otherwise, the bias-cut slices are perfect.
  • Plant-based: As printed, Pistachio Pesto with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells recipe is 100% plant-based. The recipe for the pasta can be made 100% plant-based and dairy-free by leaving out the feta cheese or substituting a plant-based cheese.
  • Gluten-free: As printed, Pistachio Pesto with Wonderful Pistachios No Shells recipe is 100% gluten-free. The pasta recipe can be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free pasta product. I have tried it with a quinoa and brown rice based pasta and it tastes great!

MORE IDEAS to USE PISTACHIO PESTO:

  • Pasta Salad: Toss Pistachio Pesto with short pasta like penne, tomatoes, other fresh vegetables, and diced mozzarella cheese, then chill for a pasta salad.
  • Grain Bowl: Stir 2 tablespoons of Pistachio Pesto into a cup of hot cooked grains like quinoa or brown rice, then use that as a base for a Grain Bowl.
  • Salad Dressing: Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil, shake into a vinaigrette, and use on a green salad with crunchy cucumbers and snaps, or drizzle over a plate of sliced avocadoes and nectarines and feta.
  • Pizza Sauce: Spread 2-3 tablespoons of Pistachio Pesto on shaped pizza dough in place of tomato sauce. Favorite toppings with Pistachio Pesto are mozzarella or burrata, then prosciutto and fresh figs added after the pizza is baked.
  • Savory Yogurt Dip: Stir into plain yogurt for a savory dip for crudites.
  • Sauce: Serve Pistachio Pesto as a sauce over pan-seared salmon or roast chicken.
  • Side Dish: Cut broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, radishes, anything into bite-size pieces, toss with a little olive oil, and roast at 400°F for about 35 minutes. Toss hot roasted vegetables with 2-4 tablespoons of Pistachio Pesto. 
  • Eat it straight out of the container with a spoon.
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