Orecchiette comes under the category of pasta bianca (white pasta), a term used in reference to pasta made without eggs. Using only flour and water, these little shapes, or rather ‘little ears’ as the name translates, have a firm bite but soft interior. A classic pasta from the southern region of Puglia (forming the heel of Italy’s boot), orecchiette are particularly deft at scooping up smaller elements of any sauce with its small, hand-pressed dimples, making it the perfect vehicle for our Orecchiette al pesto di pistacchi (Orecchiette with pistachio pesto). While the finished product looks impressive, a real benefit of orecchiette pasta is that it is in fact incredibly simple to make - take a look at our fresh orecchiette recipe here.
Our pesto sees a slight twist on the classic Ligurian version, swapping out the pine nuts for the highly prized Bronte pistachio from Sicily. For the sake of ease, any pistachio will do. The mild, slightly sweet flavour of the nut pairs perfectly with aromatic basil and sharp parmesan, resulting in a light and sophisticated meal.
Chef’s Tip: You can make this dish completely vegetarian by substituting parmesan for an Italian hard cheese free of rennet.
Our Signature Orecchiette Pasta with Pistachio Pesto Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Calories: 638kcal per serving
500g Fresh Orecchiette
1 cup of shelled pistachios
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (substitute for Italian hard cheese if vegetarian)
Handful of basil
3 cloves of garlic
Sea salt to taste
- Add garlic, basil leaves, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a pestle and mortar and grind until creamy. When grinding, use a circular motion with the pestle while slowly rotating the mortar with your free hand. Doing so creates extra friction, helping to break everything down.
- Next, add the pistachios and grind until they start to combine, repeating the same circular motion as before. You should have a creamy yet slightly chunky consistency.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil and combine into a creamy paste. We recommend leaving it a little rustic.
- Cook the orecchiette in a large pan of generously salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes until ‘al dente’ (test one before removing from the water). Once cooked, transfer to the pesto. Toss gently to coat. To serve, finish with some freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Chef’s Tip: Whilst you can certainly save yourself a bit of time using a food processor, the results are not nearly as good as following the traditional method of using a pestle and mortar. Slow grinding in a non-porous receptacle, like in a marble or granite mortar, produces an emulsion that neither a food processor or blender can. It’s also easier to control the consistency of the pesto, which we think is best with a little bite.
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