Pistachio Pesto


You need to go and make this pesto right now. I am not kidding you. Go, make it, shed a tear for how incredible it is, and immediately start devising ways in which to use it. Because it’s just. That. Good.

I made this recipe from Juli Bauer over at PaleOMG last week — one of her signature faux-pasta dishes with chicken and spaghetti squash. When I stumbled on this recipe, I kind of wondered about the wisdom of making pesto with pistachios. No cheese? More nuts? Not pine nuts? Crazy.

But because I had purchased three pounds of pistachios at Costco, this was the perfect recipe to make for dinner. And it was absolutely, positively, worth the risk. The saltiness and the fat in the nuts more than makes up for the missing cheese, and adds a subtle creaminess I didn’t expect at all. Lest it be too rich, the lemon shines through, keeping the dish from getting too heavy.

This recipe calls for combining the pesto with chicken, spaghetti squash and sundried tomatoes, but you can use it on anything you like, really. If you’re not paleo, try it on pasta (gluten-free or not) or toast with garlic; if you are paleo, I suspect this might also be good with zucchini noodles.

Or you can just eat the pesto out of the bowl of the food processor with a spoon like I did. Whichever.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken Pasta
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved, seeds and excess threads removed
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced or cubed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup pistachios, unsalted and shelled
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons (I used Meyer lemons, which were incredible)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of sundried tomatoes, sliced, to garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise, use a spoon to scoop out the excess seeds and place open side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, put pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add garlic cloves and basil, and switch the food processor to “on.” Slowly add 3/4 cup olive oil through the feed tube, then dribble in lemon juice. Process until smooth.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to the skillet; salt and pepper to taste, then brown in pan. Let sautee until cooked through.
  5. Add pesto to the pan, then stir vigorously to combine. Remove from heat.
  6. By this time, your squash should definitely be done cooking, and probably has even cooled a bit. Use a fork to pull the threads out, then add to chicken pesto mixture. Stir everything to combine.
  7. Serve topped with a few leftover pistachios and sundried tomatoes. Yum!
By Juli Bauer
Adapted from PaleOMG

3 thoughts on “Pistachio Pesto

  1. Wow, that looks absolutely delicious – a bunch of my favorite flavors in one dish! I love using spaghetti squash in recipes but hate breaking it down and the prep work. This one looks totally worth it!

    • Thanks, Alyssa! This is the easiest way I’ve ever found to do spaghetti squash — I use this method all the time now. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Pingback: Minted Fruit Salad (Paleo, vegan, gluten-free) |

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