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.
- 1Fill a large pot with water and add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- 2Meanwhile, 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.
- 3Cook 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.