Second only to tomato sauce, pesto is currently one the most popular toppings for pasta. The rich flavor of pesto holds its own when paired with sturdy pasta cooked al dente. In this pesto recipe, pine nuts are replaced by toasted almonds and pistachios, adding a new twist to this favorite dish. I keep the recipe traditional from that point on, finishing the pesto with basil, garlic, and olive oil. You could easily substitute other herbs for the basil or other nuts for the pistachios and almonds. Mint makes an interesting substitute for the basil; when combined with the pistachios it takes on more of a Middle Eastern flavor. Pesto pasta is great for busy weeknight meals because it can be prepared in very little time. Also, this pasta can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature, making it the ideal food for picnics or barbecues.
Pistachio Pesto Linguini
Steamed Clams with Garlic
Seared Broccoli with Lemon
Sourdough Bread


1 pound good-quality linguini
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
a pinch of crushed red pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1 pound ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

Cooking Instructions

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente (tender yet firm). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and place in a large warm bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Steam the green beans until just tender (about 5 to 7 minutes). Transfer the cooked green beans to the bowl with the pasta.

Combine the nuts, garlic, crushed red pepper, olive oil and basil in a food processor or blender. Blend until a coarse paste forms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the pesto to the bowl and toss with the pasta and green beans to mix thoroughly. Add enough pasta cooking water as you do this to keep the pasta from being too dry (I typically end up using about 1/2 cup). Mix in the tomatoes and serve. Alternatively, if you are to be serving the pasta later as a cold dish, cool the pasta and green beans completely first before adding the pesto.

Makes 4 to 6 servings



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Pesto loses its color quickly, especially when it comes into contact with heat. If you are serving this dish warm, it is best to wait until just before serving to toss the pesto with the pasta. If you are serving it cold, be sure to chill the pasta and green beans thoroughly before adding the pesto.

This recipe is quite adaptable. You can substitute the almonds and pistachios for traditional pine nuts, non-traditional hazelnuts, or any other type of nuts. Likewise, the basil can be replaced by mint, parsley, arugula or other herbs for a different flavor.

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