I often include shrimp when making pasta with pesto, so when I came across a Sicilian one based on pistachios, it seemed natural to add shrimp to it also. This has since strayed far from the original and, like all much-loved recipes, has been adapted over the years to suit our kitchen. The combination of “butterflies” and shrimp is a playful one, resulting in an elegantly rustic dish. The tender shrimp lend contrast to the toasted pistachios, with just enough cream to give it weight as a winter meal. Once the days lengthen into more summery weather, we’ll leave out the cream, returning the dish to its southern Italian roots.
Farfalle with Northern Shrimp and Pistachio Pesto
1 cup shelled pistachios (unsalted)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound farfalle pasta
1 pound peeled Northern shrimp
– Toast the pistachios lightly, and let cool. Process the pistachios until coarsely ground — not too fine, keep some larger pieces for texture — and set aside.
– Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the chopped onion with a pinch of red pepper flakes, and cook until the onions are translucent but short of browning. Add the ground pistachios and, if necessary, more olive oil to moisten it to a paste-like consistency. Continue cooking while stirring for another minute, until the pistachios begin to release a toasty aroma.
– Add a splash of white wine, cook briefly, then stir in the cream and some crushed dried basil. Cook for another minute for the sauce to come together, and remove from heat.
– Cook pasta until al dente, add the shrimp in with the pasta and cook briefly, then drain immediately. Add the cooked pasta and shrimp to the sauce, tossing everything together until well coated. If needed, pasta cooking water may be added to loosen the sauce. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
Note: I often stir in a heaping spoonful of basil or garlic scape pesto in place of the dried basil. If in season, some chopped fresh basil can be stirred in at the end. Almonds are a good substitute for some or all of the pistachios.
Recipe adapted from Pinch My Salt.