Pistachio pasta sauce is an absolutely divine nutty, creamy sauce of Sicilian inspiration. All you need is a handful of ingredients and 20 minutes to create a stunning dish that will impress your family on a weeknight or all your guests at a dinner party.
If this is not your first visit on Skinny Spatula, you may already know by now that I'm a pasta addict. If you've never been here before, clicking here will reveal the true extent of my addiction.
So imagine my thrill when I learned that pistachio pasta sauce was actually a thing. I love vegetarian and vegan pasta recipes more than anything, so creating a pasta dish with pistachio cream sauce was certainly a worthy challenge.
After a couple of tries, I came up with a creamy pistachio sauce that truly tastes divine. It's nutty, creamy, and lemony at the same time while also being infused with fresh basil flavours.
The combination of flavours has so much depth, it's impossible to stop at one bowl. That's perhaps the only downside of trying this recipe 😊
What do you need to make pistachio pasta sauce?
Pistachios — Raw pistachio kernels are best for this creamy pistachio pesto. You can toast them a bit for some extra flavour. Chop them in a food processor, but don't turn them into dust — you should still feel some of the crunchiness. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop them with a very sharp knife.
Pasta — Rigged pasta such as rigatoni work best for this pistachio sauce, but you can use your favourite pasta shape instead. Penne, fussilli and even tagliatelle all work great here.
Olive oil and butter — Combining extra virgin olive oil with butter results in a very creamy sauce. You can use just the oil if you want to reduce the calories.
Double cream — You can technically use single cream (half and half) if you want to reduce the number of calories, but the sauce won't be as creamy.
Fresh basil — Add some fresh basil at the end to boost flavour. I like to shred basil leaves by hand, but you can use a knife instead.
Rocket salad (arugula) — This is optional but highly recommended. If you don't have any rocket salad, you can skip it or use some baby spinach instead.
Parmesan — If you're a vegetarian, you need to make sure the hard cheese you're using is suitable for vegetarians. Unfortunately, Parmiggiano Reggiano is not vegetarian, but alternatives are available in most major supermarkets.
How to make it?
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package. Reserve some pasta water before draining.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet and melt the butter in it. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened.
Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another minute until fragrant. Next, add the lemon juice, the chopped pistachio and double cream.
Lower the heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the fresh basil, then transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Add a dash of pasta water if the sauce looks too thick.
Stir in the grated Parmesan and rocket salad, season to taste, and serve immediately.
Recipe notes and tips
- Serve this pistachio pasta with some extra grated parmesan (hard cheese) on top. You can also add a drizzle of lemon juice for extra brightness.
- Pistachio sauce also works great with ricotta instead of double cream. If you want to use that, you may have to use some extra pasta water because ricotta is much thicker than double cream.
- Raw pistachio kernels are best for this recipe. You can technically use roasted and salted pistachios, but the final result might be a bit too salty.
If you liked this pistachio pasta sauce, you might also like some of my other easy vegetarian pasta recipes:
- Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta
- Easy Roasted Chickpeas Pasta with Spinach
- Pasta alla Cenere (Gorgonzola and Black Olive Pasta)
- Blue Cheese Pasta with Spinach and Walnuts
- Creamy Lemon Gruyere Pasta
- 250 g (8.8 oz) pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 20 g (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 100 g (3.5 oz) pistachio kernels, chopped in a food processor + some extra pistachios for garnishing, chopped with a knife
- 200 ml (1 cup) double cream
- 6 basil leaves, roughly shredded
- 30 g (¼ cup) grated parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese)
- Rocket salad (arugula), a handful
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package. Reserve some pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet and melt the butter in it. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened.
- Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another minute until fragrant. Next, add the lemon juice, the chopped pistachio and double cream.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the fresh basil, then transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Add a dash of pasta water if the sauce looks too thick.
- Stir in the grated Parmesan and rocket salad, season to taste, and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 543Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 13g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.