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Nutty Love

Pistachio pesto captures our heart
5 Reviews
100% would make again

Legend has it that lovers used to meet under pistachio trees and listen for shells cracking, which signaled everlasting happiness. We don't have a pistachio tree handy, but we do have Jeff Cerciello's immensely gratifying pistachio-pesto pasta. In Santa Monica at Farmshop's newly launched artisan market, Cerciello replaces the oft-used basil-pine-nut version with an arresting combination of fresh parsley, mint, garlic, Meyer-lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Toasted pistachios and tender broccoli florets provide soulful heft in a recipe that's become our newest Italian-inspired crush.

Pasta with Pistachios, Meyer Lemon and Broccoli

Recipe adapted from Jeff Cerciello, the artisan market at Farmshop, Santa Monica, CA

Yield: 6 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes


1 cup shelled pistachios

1 tablespoon kosher salt plus extra for pasta water

1½ pounds medium tube-shaped pasta (such as maccheroni or penne)

1 large head broccoli, stems trimmed

2 garlic cloves

Juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon (or zest of 1 regular lemon with 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon orange juice)

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

½ cup mint leaves

1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup finely grated Pepato or Pecorino Romano cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Sea salt

Fennel pollen (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the pistachios until fragrant and lightly toasted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and cool, then coarsely grind in a food processor. Transfer the ground pistachios to a bowl and set aside

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some kosher salt and the pasta and cook until almost al dente, about 8 minutes. When the pasta is almost finished, add the broccoli to the pot and cook for 2 minutes more or until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is tender. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta and broccoli through a large colander.

3. In the same food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and kosher salt and grind into a fine paste. Add the parsley and mint and pulse to make a rough paste. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer to a medium saucepan and stir in the ground pistachios.

4. Add the pasta water to the pesto; bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, broccoli and pesto. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes. To serve, divide the pasta among plates or bowls and garnish with the grated cheese, chives, sea salt and fennel pollen, if using.


*This article was originally published on 02/14/2012 by Tasting Table editors. The restaurant, chef and/or recipe are in no way affiliated with or endorsing the featured sponsor.

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