Pistachio Pesto Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy

We love pistachios! They are so versatile whether eating them from the shell, making an amazing gelato, encrusting fish filets or turning them into a wonderful pesto sauce for pasta! On my recent trip to Greece, I made sure to bring home an ample supply of Greek pistachios, determined to use them in cooking. So yesterday Barbara and I, while shopping for dinner, picked up 4 lbs of sea scallops, the large ones you most often find in restaurants, not the tiny bay ones. As you may remember from our recent pesto post we have an abundance of basil from our gardens so making more pesto was the best way to use it. This time instead of using traditional pignoli (pine nuts) we would use those wonderful pistachios from Greece (California pistachios are fine too). I also wanted to make the pesto using the old, traditional mortar and pestle to test if there really is a difference. Well, after 30 minutes of crushing pistachios into a paste by hand and pummeling only 1/4 of the basil our hands decided it was time to take out the food processor! I must admit, the pesto came out extremely creamy which I believe was the result of the mortar and pestle for half the process, but as far as taste goes the food processor did a fine job. Our pan-seared scallops topped with pistachio pesto were out of this world delicious! 😋😋


  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves that have been soaked in cold water then dried using a salad spinner to drain all the water without damage to the leaves.
  • 1 cup salted pistachios, shelled
  • 4 cloves garlic (frozen cubes work well as they are uniform in size)
  • 6-8 tablespoon EVOO (preferably Ligurian EVOO)
  • 4 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese (do not add cheese if you plan to freeze the pesto for later use. Once defrosted the cheese can be mixed in)


  1. In a food processor add pistachios and garlic. Pulse into a smooth paste.
  2. Add the basil in small amounts then pulse after each addition until all the basil has been added and the mixture is creamy & smooth. Slowly (slow is key here) add the EVOO until emulsified.
  3. Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  4. If you are making to freeze,  🛑 ✋ stop here and put into freezable containers & place in the freezer.
  5.  Add cheese and pulse to incorporate.
  6. If too dry add additional EVOO slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Notes:  If you plan to freeze for future use, do not add the cheese. Cheese should be added after being thawed.  Great over pasta, fish, chicken, potatoes, sandwiches, etc…

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below or Tag @twinsinthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #twiinsinthekitchen.


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