Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pasta with Mint Pesto

Pesto is traditionally made with basil and pine nuts, but as a blend of ground herbs and nuts with oil and cheese, its a recipe with a lot of versatility. In late summer, when basil comes into its peak, traditional pesto is incredible, but you can make it year-round with other seasonal ingredients.

Mint pesto
Pesto comes together easily in the food processor.

For springtime, mint makes a wonderfully bright pesto. Enhancing its zippy flavor, I added a bit of lemon juice and, for color, blended pistachios in with the walnuts (I'd have used only pistachios except that I ran out of them).

Mint pesto
Mint pesto

Although I served this over pasta, I could see it going great with other things, like lamb chops perhaps, or spread on crusty bread and topped with grilled asparagus, goat cheese and arugula.

Pasta with Mint Pesto

1 lb. dried penne pasta
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup loosely lacked basil leaves
3 tbsp. roasted shelled pistachios
3 tbsp. chopped walnuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (may also use parmigiano-reggiano), plus more at the table

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions for al dente. When done, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water, drain noodles and return to pot with the reserved pasta water. Add tomatoes and stir with the hot noodles.

2. In a food processor, combine mint, basil, pistachios, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until mixture is ground up. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the mixture is emulsified and smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Add pesto to pasta and stir until combined. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side.


  1. Why didn't we have this with crunchy bread?! (Not that it wasn't amazing with pasta.)

  2. Crunchy bread is sadly rarely on hand around here. We need to find a good baguette maker.