Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meatless Monday - Pistachio Basil Pesto with Scallions

Our Italian food mood continues with today's Meatless Monday recipe - a stellar yet simple pasta dish adapted from one of my favorite restaurants, Frankies Spuntino (check them out HERE). With two NYC locations, proprietors Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli have, for nearly a decade, turned out tasty Italian small plates by focusing on fresh, local ingredients and un-fussy preparations. My Mom and I discovered their Carroll Gardens Brooklyn location, Frankies 457, soon after it opened and well before it became so darn popular. To think ... we used to be able to waltz right in.

Orecchiette with Pistachio Basil Pesto and Scallions, Photo: NK

What's great about today's plate? Orecchiette with Pistachio Basil Pesto and Scallions is brightly flavored, easy, and casually elegant. It's as perfect as an appetizer as it is as a main course and even tastes great at room temperature if you'd prefer it to be more like a pasta salad. Even better, this dish is a good way to use leftover Basil (which we happened to have plenty of from our last dish of Pappa al Pomodoro HERE). Frankies' original recipe uses an equal amount of Mint rather than Basil. Feel free to try both ways of making it depending on which herbs you have on hand! 

Orecchiette with Pistachio Basil Pesto and Scallions
Serves 2 
Adapted from Food and Wine/Frank Castonovo and Frank Falcinelli of Frankies Spuntino 
Bright Green Pistachios, Photo: NK 

1/3 Cup Roasted, Salted Pistachios, shelled
2 Scallions cut into 2 inch lengths, stacked alongside eachother and julienned

Scant 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons roughly chopped Basil Leaves
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/2 Pound Orecchiette Pasta
Black Pepper


Set a pot of lightly salted water to boil. 

In a small food processor, process the Pistachios until coarsely chopped.  
Processing the Pistachios, Photo: NK 

Next, add the Olive Oil, Basil Leaves, and Garlic. Pulse about 10 times to combine. 
Transfer Pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmigiano Cheese. Fold in the julienned Scallions and set aside.

Once water comes to a boil, cook the Orecchiette according to instructions (usually 10 minutes for al dente). When Pasta is cooked, drain into a colander over a bowl, and reserve a 1/4 cup of the Pasta Water.

Adding the Cheese and Scallion, Photo: NK 

Return drained Pasta to the pot over a low flame. Stir in the Pesto/Scallion Mixture and the Pasta Water. Continue to cook over low heat for a minute or two, tossing, until Pesto has coated the Pasta fully and the liquids thicken. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of Salt - this will really make the flavors pop.  

Plate, and optionally sprinkle with a bit of Parmigiano Cheese and some Black Pepper.

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