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Ainsley Harriott’s Trofie Pasta with Pistachio and Mint Pesto

Inspired by a trip to Sicily, Ainsley Harriott’s pistachio and mint pasta dish is a satisfying and comforting meal for cooks of all levels. Packed full of fresh flavours, the pistachio pesto can be stored in the fridge for use in other recipes.

Introduction

I first tried pistachio pesto on a filming visit to Sicily a good few years back and it quickly became a favourite of mine. Fresh and vibrant, it makes a lovely change from the usual pesto. It’s also simple and quick to make and that’s always a bonus! If you make any extra it’s delicious on bruschetta or in sandwiches.

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Ingredients

45g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts
460g dried trofie pasta, or similar short pasta
1 small garlic clove, chopped
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
30g vegetarian Italian hard cheese (or Parmesan if non-vegetarian), grated, plus extra to serve
zest and juice of ½ lemon
15g mint leaves, shredded, plus extra to garnish
4–5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor or a pestle and mortar.

Method

In a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat, toast the pistachios for a minute or two until lightly golden. Keep an eye on them because they can easily burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, put the garlic, a pinch each of salt and pepper, the pistachios, chilli flakes (if using), grated cheese, lemon zest and mint in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the oil and pulse a couple of times to combine. Drizzle in a little more oil as you pulse until you reach the desired consistency – you’re looking for a thick wet pesto with a coarse texture. Alternatively, pound the ingredients in a pestle and mortar and stir in the oil. Check the seasoning and add more lemon juice if needed. Set aside.

Put the pasta back into the pan and stir in the pesto, 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Stir to combine over a very low heat, adding another tablespoon of pasta water if needed to form a glossy sauce. Check for seasoning.

Serve in warmed pasta bowls, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil, scattered with cheese and garnished with mint leaves.

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