Basil Harvest: Pistachio Pesto with Gemelli

Many moons ago, NYC was my home.  During those wonderful years, I did a lot of restaurant (bar) hopping.  No seriously, I was lucky enough to sample amazing bites from some of the best restaurants in the city.

NYC is... I cant even finish that sentence.   There are no words to explain how fantastic, fast, exciting and abundant that place is!

Now that I live in the suburbs as a New Jersey Housewife (kidding), I get really excited about returning to my old stomping ground to try out the new places.   Our most recent trip to the city brought us to Locanda Verde in TriBeCa.  Without turning this into a restaurant review, I'll just say.... AMAZING!   We were lucky enough to get a beautiful table in the courtyard on a luscious, breezy summer night.  It was like a dream with white pillar candles everywhere, ivy covered brick walls, cozy seating, friendly and knowledgable wait staff.

It was a large group, so we basically ordered everything and the taste-fest began.  The crab jalepeno crostinti, the lamb meatball sliders, steak tartara and the fresh sheep's milk ricotta were the starters. Each so delicious that our loud laughing, drinking table suddenly became silent, except for the random but frequent "mmmmm",  "did you try...?" and "oh my God."

Next the pastas... We had the pappardelle with lamb bolognese, lumache with duck sausage and the pistastio pesto over gemelli.  All were so delicious, so wonderful, warm and tasty and it continues....

The entrees.  I thoroughly enjoyed the prosciutto wrapped trout with corn ragu. It was savory and moist.  My husband had "the best lamb chop in his life."  I could go on, but I wont.  Lets just say, the night was such an amazing experience, that I just had to bring something home with me.

Here it is.  A lovely memory remembered in my own modest kitchen.



The ingredients are easy and accessible.  The preparation is even easier with a food processor.


Here's what you'll need to serve 4:

  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios.  We used roasted and salted pistachios.  If you use raw pistachios, roast in the oven on a baking sheet until browned and fragrant.
  • 1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. shredded parmesean cheese
  • 1 tbsp. shredded romano cheese
  • 1 Lemon, rind and juice
  • red pepper flakes (a pinch)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb gemelli pasta

Here's what you'll do:

1.  In a large pot, cook gemelli in boiling salted water according to package instructions. About 8-10 minutes.  Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water.

2.  In a food processor, place basil, garlic, pistachios, salt, pepper, pinch of red pepper flake, lemon rind and juice and process until smooth.  Fold in shredded cheese.

3.   Toss pasta with pesto, adding small amounts of pasta water while stirring until you achieve saucy consistency.  Usually about 1/4 cup of water is sufficient.

This recipe is enough for one pound of pasta.  If you want extra pesto, just double the batch and store in your refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week.  Freeze in a ice cube tray, transfer cubes to an airtight food storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

This is the consistency that you're looking for:



Do you cook any restaurant inspired recipes from delicious food memory? 

xo & a pinch