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Orecchiette with Pistachios Recipe

Orecchiette with Pistachios
Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 25 mins | Makes: 4 servings

Pistachios from Bronte, Italy, near Mount Etna, are sweet, rich, emerald green in color, and expensive. Throughout Sicily, these prized nuts are pounded into a paste, mixed with a little olive oil and salty pasta water to form a sauce, and then blanketed over al dente pasta. In this recipe, the Franks of Frankies Spuntino in New York choose to coarsely chop the nuts instead of grinding. With a touch of fresh mint, their dish is an ode to the melting pot of cultures (particularly North African) that embodies Italy’s largest island.

What to buy: Bronte pistachios are not only pricey but also can be hard to find. Kalustyan’s sells them online or at its store in Manhattan. You can substitute any pistachio for the Sicilian variety.

Read more about the Frankies Spuntino cookbook.

INGREDIENTS
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled, unsalted, toasted green pistachios (preferably Sicilian), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces), plus more as needed
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces then thinly sliced lengthwise (white and light green parts only)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Fill a large pot with water and add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place pistachios, olive oil, mint, and garlic in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add measured Pecorino Romano and a large pinch of salt and stir to combine; set aside.
  3. Cook pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions. Drain—reserving 1 cup of the cooking water—return pasta to the pot, and place over low heat. Add reserved pistachio mixture and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and toss until pasta is coated with sauce. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and cheese if you choose. If needed, add a little more cooking water to loosen the sauce. Transfer to bowls or a serving platter, garnish with scallions, and serve, passing additional olive oil on the side.