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This vegetarian pesto combines pistachio nuts, basil and red onion to create a delicious flavor, and to change up your weeknight pasta routine! Easy to make ahead and great as an appetizer on bread too. I call it gourmeet mac and cheese and the kids are fooled! #pesto #dinnertonight #dinnerrecies #familydinner #pestorecipe #vegetarian #vegetarianrecipes #easyrecipe

Easy Weeknight Pistachio Pesto Recipe

This vegetarian pesto combines pistachio nuts, basil and red onion to create a delicious flavor, and to change up your weeknight pasta routine! Easy to make ahead and great as an appetizer on bread too. I call it gourmet mac and cheese and the kids are fooled! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pesto, vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Christa

Ingredients

For the pesto

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tight-packed cup spinach leaves
  • 4 tight-packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons red onion
  • 1/3 cup shelled salted pistachios or almonds
  • 2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil

For the pasta

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups macaroni
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 8 cups boiling salted water
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB fine chopped red onion

Instructions

  1. Start by boiling the water for your pasta. You can make the pesto ahead of time too and then just make the pasta when you are ready to eat as well, just omit the pasta steps below.

    While it’s boiling, you can start to create the pesto. On your cutting board place the salt and pepper in the middle, and put the garlic cloves on top. Fine chop the garlic while mixing it with the salt and pepper. Next you will pile the basil, spinach, and red onion, and continue to chop, blending chopping until everything is very fine. Add the pistachios to the mix, and chop them coarsely. Your final step is to blend in the olive oil right onto the board with the rest of the ingredients.

    Once the water is boiling, add in your pasta and cook for 10-11 minutes.

    Before draining the pasta, set aside about one cup of the pasta water. You will use this to finish the pesto. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

    In the same pot where you cooked the pasta, add 1 tb olive oil and the rest of the fine chopped red onion. Saute the onion for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add the pesto- and just get it to warm. The language from the original recipe says “Warm it for only a few seconds over medium heat to let the flavors blossom—do not cook it.” (I love that phrase!) Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then stir in the pasta and cheese. Let the cheese melt a big more if you like. You can add more pasta water if it seems too dry. We serve with lemon garlic shrimp and a super food salad.

    I love this recipe because it is super yummy, but also because it can be eaten hot or cold, so it’s perfect for a picnic. It saves well in the fridge and only gets better with age. Buen provecho- yum!