RECIPE: Smoky and Mild Pistachio Pesto and Pasta

Being 1st generation Italian, I have many family and friends still in Italy, and they love to share Italian recipes-REAL Italian recipes, in Italian, online. I have to say, their tasty-esque videos are much tastier than ours. One that caught my eye was a speck and pistachio pesto pasta. The challenge with these is that they are in...well...Italian. I am pretty fluent so that is not an issue, but the issue comes in with the units of measure. They are on a different Metric system than we are, and nothing translates perfectly over, it takes some trial and error. The other challenge is ingredients. We find many ingredients here easily, but not all. So sometimes you need to substitute worthy equivalents.  Thus the recipe below.

This recipe caught my eye because the pesto doesn't use garlic, making it really mild and creamy with the pistachio. It gets the subtle bite that garlic usually brings from the Pecorino. I am kind of obsessed with pesto, and this is going to the top of the list of pesto recipes at our house. It is so easy, and with the rising cost of pine nuts, this is a great option!

Smoky and Mild Pistachio Pesto and Pasta

1 cup of roasted, shelled pistachios 
4 tablespoons grated  Pecorino Romano cheese
6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese 
About 1/2 a cup of basil leaves, rinsed 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
ground pepper to taste 
1/2 cup of olive oil or more 
16 ounces of linguine cooked according to package directions reserving 1/2 a cup pasta water 
6 ounces of hickory smoked bacon (or speck or pancetta) about 5 to 6 slices 


In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until ground, then add the cheeses, salt and pepper and pulse again. Pulse with the basil until minced fine. Add the olive oil slowly while the processor is on and pulse until a thick paste is formed. Set aside.

In a large heavy skillet, cook the bacon or the pancetta until brown and crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and drain. Then crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces. Drain off all but half a tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan.

Cook pasta according to package directions and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. 

Return the pan to a very low heat and toss the pasta in the hot pan with the bacon drippings and loosen up the pasta. Add the pistachio pesto and toss using some of the pasta water to loosen up the sauce if it's too thick so that all the pasta is coated with the pistachio pesto. Only use enough of the water to loosen the sauce so add it sparingly. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top and serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

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