Pistachio Pasta


Mr. Wishes got me a really cool cookbook,  The Frankies Spuntino – Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual, for Christmas this past year and I finally got around to making a recipe out of it.  I knew right away after reading through the whole cookbook back when I first got it that this “Orecchiette with Pistachios” was most definitely the first thing I wanted to give a try.

Frankie Spuntino Italian Restaurant  is a unique Italian restaurant run by two owners by the name of Frank: Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo. They have two locations in New York City; their original location in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and a second location is in the lower east side of the city.  The restaurant started in November 2003 when the two Franks randomly reunited after 18 years and discovered how much they had in common.  For instance, they had both grown up in Queens and had culinary training in France.  They also both had worked for top chefs in the 80’s and 90’s, such as David Bouley and Charlie Palmer, before running their own kitchens in New York.  Coincidentally, those of you from Rochester may recognize the name “Bouley” if you have ever eaten at the Wegman family-owned restaurant Next Door Bar & Grill.  Mr. Wishes was “Engineer of Record” on the restaurant, and as he tells me, the menu item was added as a tribute to chef David Bouley, who is one of Danny Wegman’s best friends that spent considerable time consulting with the Wegman’s team during design of the new restaurant.

After this unforeseen reunion, they realized that they both had a longing to revisit the Italian-American cuisine of their childhood and the roots they both shared and cherished so much.  They came up with the idea Frankies Spuntino (Spuntino means “an informal meal or a snack; also, a casual Italian eatery” in Italian).  This would symbolize both of their culinary values, travel and experiences and be a place where they could cook together.  They visualized offering traditional Sunday cuisine such as homemade pastas, sausages, braciole and Sunday sauce.  It would all be food that their  Grandmothers used to make when they were growing up – home cooked, simple, and made with the freshest possible ingredients.  They offer healthy soups and sandwiches, fresh salads, roasted vegetables and small plates at their restaurants.

The cookbook describes the pasta sauce in this dish as what we think of in the States as “pesto”,  but with the ratio of nuts to herbs flip-flopped.

The main ingredients are Sicilian in emphasis and the mint reflects the North African influence on Sicilian cuisine.  I recommend you give this a try!  It’s easy and very delicious and has great texture to it: soft pasta and crunchy pistachios.   Once you taste it you won’t believe how easy it was to make. The most tedious part of this recipe is the shelling of the pistachios (thanks Mr. Wishes)….the rest is a breeze!


fine sea salt
1.5 cups shelled unsalted green pistachios, preferably Sicilian (I just used regular ones)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 pound orecchiette
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced


Put a large pot of water on the boil and salt it well.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the pistachios by hand or in a food processor.  Toss the pistachios with the garlic, mint, and olive oil in a small mixing bowl.  Add the cheese and a large pinch of salt and stir to combine.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente, following the package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot over low heat.

Add the “pesto” mixture (garlic, mint, oil, cheese, salt mixture) to the pot, along with the reserved pasta cooking water, and heat, tossing constantly, until the orecchiette are coated with the sauce.

Transfer to bowls or a serving platter, garnish with the scallions, and serve, passing additional olive oil at the table.
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These are a few of my favorite things: cooking, baking, Broadway musicals, cruises, Disney World, Christmas, thunderstorms, 80's and country music, and my favorite pastime has ALWAYS been baseball. Go Yankees!

46 Responses to “Pistachio Pasta”

  1. May 1, 2012 at 1:53 PM #

    This looks fantastic! I love nut-based sauces, and pistachios are not a nut that I have tried in that form yet! I look forward to trying this recipe.

    • May 1, 2012 at 6:54 PM #

      I had never used pistachios in this way before! I was glad I tried it! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. May 1, 2012 at 3:03 PM #

    this sounds delicious! a really wonderful blend of flavors here!

    • May 1, 2012 at 6:55 PM #

      Thanks for the nice comment!

  3. joe
    May 2, 2012 at 12:37 AM #

    hahaha mr wishes

    • May 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM #

      Nice hearing from you 🙂

  4. May 2, 2012 at 1:21 PM #

    I love that Wegmans restaurant! I miss living near there… Anyways, great looking pasta! So green and healthy looking!

    • May 3, 2012 at 1:14 AM #

      Thanks for the nice comment, Vicki! I love Wegmans 🙂

  5. May 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM #

    This looks so simple and so good.

    • May 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM #

      It is both of those things! 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Sharyn 🙂

  6. candice
    May 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM #

    Yum! Orecchiette and pistachio are two of my favorite ingredients. =) Thanks for sharing this easy recipe, Ashley. I will definitely give it a try.

    • May 3, 2012 at 5:35 PM #

      I’m sure you will love it! Thanks for commenting, Candice!

  7. Dawn
    May 3, 2012 at 8:58 PM #

    Oh, this sounds divine! I think I might add some spring peas to it…

    • May 3, 2012 at 10:14 PM #

      Ooo that sounds good!!

  8. May 5, 2012 at 3:17 PM #

    Oh, this looks so lovely! Yummy and refreshing, too!

  9. May 6, 2012 at 9:59 PM #

    How fun – I have been looking at “pistachio pesto” recipes all weekend determined to try some (and knowing full well I won’t get the flavorful ones from Sicily but oh well). And here you are with exactly what I need and just deliciously prepared. Just returned from NYC – would’ve tried out the restaurtant. woulda…coulda…shoulda…

    • May 7, 2012 at 2:36 AM #

      Aww thanks for that nice comment, Claudia! I want to try that restaurant next time I’m in NYC. I bet it’s so good!

  10. May 7, 2012 at 5:17 PM #

    This recipe looks totally delicious… I’m completely buggin’ over this!

    • May 7, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

      It’s really good!! Thanks for the comment, Katie 🙂

  11. May 9, 2012 at 9:50 AM #

    This pasta sounds incredible and refreshing =)

  12. May 14, 2012 at 5:37 PM #

    I love the color of this dish! Mint and pistachio must be perfect together!

    • May 16, 2012 at 2:49 PM #

      They definitely are! Thanks for the comment, Kaitlin 🙂

  13. May 16, 2012 at 11:15 PM #

    What a wonderful pasta recipe. I adore anything with pistachio in it.

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM #

      Thanks for the comment, Kim!

  14. May 17, 2012 at 1:03 AM #

    This is going on my To Do List. Definitely!

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM #

      Thanks for the comment! I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  15. May 17, 2012 at 9:07 AM #

    Pistacios and mint never occurred to me! Interesting and fresh combination

    • May 21, 2012 at 9:06 AM #

      I wasn’t sure about it either, but it turned out delicious! Thanks for the comment, Paula!

  16. June 9, 2012 at 11:05 AM #

    What a great idea for pasta!!

    • June 27, 2012 at 1:59 PM #

      Thanks, Elizabeth!

  17. June 27, 2012 at 9:24 AM #

    You can’ t go wrong with two franks and a bunch of pistachios. I don’t care for mint, so I would probably use some basil or parsley, but otherwise, this looks wonderful.

    • June 27, 2012 at 1:59 PM #

      I agree! And I bet it would be awesome with basil or parsley in place of the mint. Thanks for commenting!

  18. July 3, 2012 at 2:28 PM #

    I love how simple and flavorful this dish appears to be. I love Italian cooking for its simplicity and robust flavors. Gorgeous pics! I’d love to make this sometime!

    • July 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM #

      Thanks, Maggie! It really is such a simple dish but yet so fancy looking and tasting 🙂

  19. July 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM #

    Lovely flavours and a gorgeous looking dish, can’t wait to give it a try.


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