This addicting recipe transpired when I had a craving for pesto pasta but didn’t have any basil at home. My basil obsession prevailed and we ate our entire supply. I’m still impatiently waiting on a new batch to flourish. In the mean time, what could I make that would satisfy my craving?
My ‘newish’ mission is to try my best to use what I already have, in efforts to decrease my household waste. I feel enormous guilt when I throw away food and well, essentially money. Anyhoo, I remembered I had a whole whack of mint from the farmers market, and I thought that combined with pistachios and a few key ingredients; it would make deliciously smooth and fresh pesto.
Pistachios are a tree nut that are high in protein and rich in dietary fiber. Pistachio trees are commonly found in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and right here in California, to name a few. They are a ridiculously great source of vitamin E, which is key for healthy skin, eyes and a strong immune system.
I must confess I’m a Trader Joe’s-aholic and I buy most of my nuts there, among other things. They have super convenient shelled pistachios and they are very reasonably priced. I mainly love them because they save me SO MUCH time and I truly dislike the tedious task of removing the shells myself. If you live in Canada and don’t have access to TJ’s, I’ve found them in bulk at some Whole Foods & Safeway stores. I always go for the unsalted ones so I never end up with an over salted recipe. You can always add more but you can’t take it away!
Heads up I add a lot of garlic to this recipe! I use two large cloves or 3 small, so please adjust your recipe accordingly depending on preference. I also wait and fold in the green onions and pecorino into the pesto after removing it from the food processor. I just like the texture better that way but feel free to tweak whatever you like.
This recipe can easily be adapted to a vegetarian recipe by skipping the pancetta. I would probably make it vegetarian style more often if I was just cooking for myself, but my fiancé really loves this dish with pancetta.
Don’t forget to reserve 1 cup of pasta water. This is very important! Add it slowly one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Adding the pasta water slowly to the pesto pasta adds a rich & creamy component to this dish. Be careful not to add too much at a time.
Mushroom & Arugula Fusili with Pistachio Mint Pesto is one of my favorite go-to’s when hosting a casual dinner with friends & family. I love to serve this family style in a big pasta bowl and let everyone serve themselves. I put out little bowls of grated Pecorino Romano, shelled pistachios and mint on a tray and everyone can add the final touches to their pasta. People always go in for seconds of this recipe and I never have any leftovers! This recipe will definitely be made again & again at my house!
- 1 cup dry roasted pistachios, shelled
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano, finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic, quartered
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup mint, loosely chopped
- 3 tbsp parsley, loosely chopped
- 227g small crimini mushrooms, ends trimmed and halved or quartered, dependent on size
- 4 cups arugula, washed and dried
- 8 ounces pancetta, diced
- 454g whole wheat fusili pasta, cooked slightly before al dente
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add dried fusili pasta and cook until just before al dente. Use the instructions on the back of the package as a guide but check several times to avoid overcooking. You want to stop the cooking process a little bit before al dente and rinse with cold water. When we mix the pasta later it will cook a little bit more and we don't want overcooked pasta. Remember to reserve 1½ cups pasta water for later. This is very important!! I always take some out during the last stages of boiling process before draining the pasta so I don't forget.
- Combine pistachios, garlic and mint in the food processor and pulse until a loose paste forms.
- Add olive oil and a little bit of kosher salt and pulse until smooth.
- Fold in parmigiano regianno and scallions into pesto mixture.
- Return the large pot to the burner and add 1 tbsp olive oil or butter and heat over medium high heat.
- Add pancetta and sauté for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Add 2 tbsp pasta water and use a wooden spoon to scrap bottom of the pot .
- Turn to low heat and add pasta to the pot.
- Add pistachio pesto to the pasta and toss to coat, adding pasta water to thin out the sauce and enhance the creaminess of the dish.
- Serve on a lush bed of arugula and finish with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
- I love to serve this dish family style and leave the big bowl at the table because people always want seconds of this!
- Have freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, roasted pistachios and mint and let everyone top their own.
Have freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, roasted pistachios and mint and let everyone top their own.