Pistachio, Basil & Feta Pesto
I wrote this recipe for pistachio, basil and feta pesto long ago but kept procrastinating about posting it. Spaghetti and linguine with pistachio pesto is a favourite in my home and when I shared a picture of my pesto and the pasta I made with it on twitter last week I realised it appeals to many others, too. So I decided to share the proper recipe for my pesto.
Making pistachio pesto is exactly the same as making regular pesto. If you have a nice big pestle and mortar (and a bit of time on your hand) it’s best to put it to good use. Otherwise, chuck everything in the small bowl of a food processor and whiz for a few seconds. Most of the time that’s what I do when I’m tired from work and can’t be bothered too much.
Almost every recipe for pistachio pesto that I have seen uses Parmigiano Reggiano which I really love but aged cheeses usually bring my migraines on so I often make my pesto with feta cheese. Pesto with feta obviously tastes different but is very delicious in its own right.
Being Persian I always have different fresh herbs around in the kitchen, in little pots on the windowsills or in the garden. The mesmerising scent of fresh herbs such as tarragon, mint, lemon basil (which is quite different from Italian basil) and the less common savory (satureja hortensis,) often tempt me to experiment with these herbs in pesto-like preparations.
My favourite pesto by far is the vegan pesto I made with savory (marzeh in Persian) a couple of years ago to dress some very pretty heritage tomatoes. In Iran we use marzeh in a lot of cooked dishes. Marzeh is also one of the soft herbs we put in sabzi khordan (a basket of fresh soft herbs to pick from and eat with food). If you have summer savory (or its perennial relative, the winter savory) check out the recipe for my Tomato & Fennel Salad with Vegan Pistachio Pesto. Or even make that salad with the pistachio, basil and feta pesto recipe in this post. Pesto really makes the tomatoes and fennel sing in the salad!
- 30g fresh Italian basil
- 2-3 small clove of garlic
- 50g shelled pistachio nuts
- 40g feta cheese
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- If using a pestle and mortar put the garlic in first with a pinch of salt and pound to a pulp. Add the basil followed by pistachios in handfuls and continue pounding until a rather grainy paste forms.
- Break the cheese into small pieces and mix with basil and pistachio paste.
- Add the olive oil in a thin stream and work it into the paste.
If using a food processor just put everything in the bowl and whiz until the nuts are finely chopped.
Stir the pesto into boiled pasta of your choice or thin with olive oil and pour over salads.