This basil pistachio pesto recipe is full of delicious flavor and healthy ingredients. Made with real, whole food, this pesto goes great on chicken, fish, or added to your favorite pasta.
Besides pistachios, basil is the main star of this dish. And summer is basil season. You can easily grow your own basil if you like to have fresh herbs on hand. Basil has a pleasantly cool, crisp aroma. Plus it’s full of antioxidants and a source of Vitamin K. It’s one of the main ingredients in pistachio pesto.
What You’ll Need For This Pistachio Pesto Recipe
One thing I love about pesto sauce is its versatility. You can tailor-make pesto the way you want with what you have on hand. I’ll share the main ingredients for this pistachio pesto recipe along with substitution ideas.
Basil is found in many Italian dishes. Traditional Italian pesto is no exception. Fresh basil leaves make up the majority of the sauce. This fragrant herb adds wonderful flavor and color. For this recipe you’ll need two cups of loosely packed fresh basil.
Don’t have basil? No problem. Check out the recommended substitutions for basil below.
The first time I tried pistachio pesto was at a one-year-old’s birthday party. The family hosting the event had made fresh pistachio pesto for the adults. I was in heaven. Pistachios are a great alternative to pine nuts (which are commonly used in pesto). They have a mild, nutty flavor and tend to be more affordable. Pistachios are also an excellent source of Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, as well as protein, and fiber. For this recipe, you’ll need one-third cup of shelled pistachios.
Fresh garlic cloves provide an extra depth of flavor and antioxidants. You can either roughly chop them by hand before adding them to the food processor or add them whole and roughly chop them in the food processor itself. About two large garlic cloves is what you’ll need for this recipe. You can always add more to taste.
What is it? Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is authentic Italian cheese. You can find it in the specialty cheese section of most groceries stores. It’s different than domestic parmesan cheese. You can always tell if the cheese is authentic by looking at the rind. You’ll see the name Parmigiano-Reggiano embossed over and over again. You can purchase pre-grated cheese be sure to pay attention to the label and look for Parmigiano-Reggiano not parmesan. You’ll need 1/2 cup of freshly grated cheese.
SEA SALT AND GROUND PEPPER
Both sea salt and freshly ground black pepper help season the pesto sauce. You can always add more to taste. I use Redmond’s Real Salt. And I like to freshly grind my pepper for this recipe. It adds to the overall freshness of the pesto. You’ll use 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Hands down my favorite oil. Extra virgin olive oil adds healthy fat, a nutty flavor, and helps prevent discoloration of the pesto sauce which can turn brown when stored for a few days. For the main recipe, you’ll need 1/2 cup (or more) of olive oil. When it comes to storing pesto, adding a thin layer of olive oil on top will help prevent discoloration.
How To Make Basil Pistachio Pesto
This pistachio pesto recipe comes together in 10 minutes. Plus you can serve it right away or save it for later. Follow this three easy step process for fresh pesto sauce.
STEP ONE: PROCESS GARLIC AND PISTACHIOS
In a food processor or blender, roughly chop garlic and shelled pistachios for about 10 seconds.
STEP TWO: ADD BASIL, CHEESE, SALT, AND PEPPER
Add fresh basil leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. Process for about one minute until a paste is formed.
STEP THREE: SLOWLY POUR IN OLIVE OIL
In the feed tube of the processor, slowly add olive oil and process until all ingredients are well blended. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides as you go.
Ingredient Substitution Ideas
As I mentioned, pesto sauce is extremely versatile. If you’re wanting to make it but find you’re missing a few ingredients or need alternatives for allergies, this list will help. Below you’ll find substitution ideas for each of the main ingredients in this pistachio pesto recipe.
- Basil– Substitute with mint, parsley, arugula, kale, or spinach.
- Pistachios- Use pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, or hemp seeds instead.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano- You can use parmesan cheese, Italian cheese mix, or nutritional yeast.
- Garlic Cloves- Substitute with garlic powder about 1/2 teaspoon or more.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil- You can use avocado oil.
How To Use Pistachio Pesto
You can use this pistachio pesto recipe in a variety of ways. Serve it as an appetizer with crisp, crunchy bread or fresh veggies. Use it as a topping on baked or grilled chicken and fish. Add it to your favorite pasta. Mix in about 1/4 cup of pasta water to thin it out.
Storage Tips for Pesto Recipe
Pistachio pesto will keep in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for about 3 days. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top before storing to prevent discoloration.
You can also freeze pesto sauce. Either put it directly in a freezer-safe bag or fill an ice cube tray with pesto sauce and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the pesto sauce cubes and place them in a freezer-safe bag to refreeze. Frozen pesto sauce will keep for 3 months.
Check Out These Other Easy Sauce Recipes
Looking for more sauce/dip ideas? Give these healthy, homemade recipes a try.
- Fresh Chimichurri Sauce (Authentic)
- Antioxidant-Rich Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Easy Poblano Dip (Pan-Seared)
- Easy Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
10-Minute Pistachio Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups loosely packed, fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/2 cup freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano (You can find this in the speciality cheese section)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use Redmond's Real Salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (Plus more if desired)
- Place the garlic and pistachios in a food processor (or blender). Process for about 10 seconds until coarsely chopped. Next add the basil leaves, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Process for about 1 minute until the mixture starts to form a paste. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until all of the ingredients are well blended. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides as you go. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration.