Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce


People keep asking me why, if I’m living in Sicily, I haven’t posted any Italian or Sicilian recipes on this site. Well, the answer is simple. I just don’t cook Italian food at home that often because I can go out and get really good pasta or pizza anytime I want. In fact, it’s very difficult to find restaurants in Sicily that serve anything besides Italian food. While I love the food here, we like to experiment with different things at home. Of course a lot of my recipes have been influenced by the foods that are readily available here and new cooking techniques that I have picked up over the last few years. So, even if my recipes aren’t considered to be Italian, many of them are definitely born from my culinary experiences in Sicily ๐Ÿ™‚

But there are a few Sicilian dishes I like to make at home and I will definitely be sharing them with you over time. And hopefully the list will continue to grow! One of my favorites is Pasta con Pesto al Pistacchio or Pasta with Pistacchio Sauce. Variations of this dish can be found in most restaurants here but this recipe is definitely one of the tastiest I’ve had. The best part is that it’s really fast and simple to make!


The pistachios grown here in Sicily are prized for their brilliant green color and are exported throughout the world. The majority of the nuts come from Bronte, an area situated on the base of Mount Etna. Unlike in the United States, where pistachios are often eaten out of hand, Sicilians use pistachios in a wide variety of both sweet and savory treats. Perhaps most famous is the pistachio gelato which I believe is the best gelato flavor in the world! But you will also find several types of pistachio cakes, cookies, candies and pastries. Of the savory dishes, my favorite is this one:

Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce

8 oz. farfalle or penne pasta
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1/4 C. ground pistachio (unsalted nuts, ground in a blender or food processor)
2 T. olive oil (plus a little extra)
1/2 – 3/4 C. heavy cream (according to taste)
crushed red pepper
fresh ground black pepper

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  2. In the meantime, chop onion and grind the pistachios until the pieces are very small but not completely uniform.
  3. Add pasta to water and boil according to package directions.
  4. While pasta is cooking, begin sauce: Heat olive oil in a medium sautรฉ pan, add onion and cook until translucent but not browned.
  5. Add pistachios and enough oil to moisten them (if needed). It should be a paste-like consistency.
  6. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about one minute (do not let the pistachios take on any color).
  7. Add cream, stir until heated through, then remove from heat.
  8. Add crushed red pepper, black pepper and plenty of salt to taste.
  9. When pasta is al dente, drain well then add to the sautรฉ pan with the sauce. Toss well to coat and serve immediately with lots of fresh grated parmigiano reggiano.

Serves four as a first course.

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  1. 1
    amanda Says:

    ooo, nicole! this looks awesome. pistachios happen to be one of my all time favorite nuts. here in the u.s. i’ve never seen a pistachio pesto before, but i definately find it intriguing. and hey! it’s got heavy cream in it so it must be good! i don’t normal do a lot of straight cooking from the blogs but i think i’m going to attempt this some time in the next few weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 2
    rachel Says:

    So pretty! I don’t even like pistachios and I am half tempted to try it!

  3. 3
    Nicole Says:

    Thanks Amanda! This recipe is so basic that it’s very easy to change it up and make it your own ๐Ÿ™‚

    Rachel, they also do similar pasta dishes using almonds so you could try that instead of pistachios if you want!

  4. 4
    Ivonne Says:

    Oh, Nicole!

    This is on my “must must must must must try list”! I’m not sure why (I’m a bit slow), but it never really sunk in until now that you’re living in Sicily. Keep the recipes coming!

  5. 5
    Vanessa Says:

    Hi Pinchy! This recipe looks like the exact tonic to an overwhelming ham, cheese, cookie, fest that we’ve been indulging in over here. I absolutely agree that pistachio gelato is the best and it is so unfortunate that I cannot just stroll down the block for some whenever I want…just not possible in Wisconsin. I’ll be trying this recipe pronto! I also adore your dog smack…what a cutie!

  6. 6
    Orchidea Says:

    Very nice pasta dish… I like pistacchi.

  7. 7
    Ruby Berry Says:

    I was thinking about making this, but decided to hold off until you can come back and make it for me! Always taste better, when you make it Nicole! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Nicole, what a lovely dish! I love the color of pistachios, it’s so intense!

    I’m having people over next week and this would make a wonderful main dish!

  9. 9
    Nicole Says:

    Hi Ivonne, yes I’m in Sicily ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you enjoy this!

    Hi Vanessa, I’ve sampled pistacchio gelato in other parts of Italy and I must say that I am very lucky to be in Sicily. It’s definitely best down here! I’ll tell Smack you said hi ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Ciao Orchidea! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hey Ruby, of course I’ll make it for you next time I’m in town. Sorry it didn’t happen this last time!

    Hi Patricia! I hope you and your guests enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. 10
    emon Says:

    Thanks for the sidebar add! Now the big question is, when is your podcast happening?

  11. 11
    pria Says:

    That recipe looks awesome:-))

  12. 12
    experienceaurie Says:

    I love your new colours for Christmas. The theme is so nice. That’s some good pasta. Ok I gotta go eat.

  13. 13
    Jessica Says:

    I will definitely try this, it looks delicious!

  14. 14
    Nicole Says:

    emon: hmmm…not sure about a podcast. You’d have to come here and help me with it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    aurie: Thanks! I think I’ll keep the Christmas theme around for a few more days…I’m not ready to let it go! Hope you had a good meal!

    Jessica: Hope you try it sometime! Thanks for stopping by!

  15. […] Savory recipes that I’d like to try are Pork Goulash and Sauerkraut Casserole from the Columbus Dispatch, Wasabi-Crusted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Apples, Curry, and Honey from Acme Instant Food, Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Sage from Adventures of a Digestive Diva, Leek and Vegetable Gratin from Albion Cooks, Migas and Holubki from Coconut & Lime, Chicken and Dumplings from Cook & Eat, Osso Buco from Cookthink, Risotto with Leek, Broccoli, and Feta from Dinner for One, Tramps on Horseback from Eat, Mustard Pork Chops and Colcannon from English Patis, Porcupine Meatballs from Flavors, Hungarian Chicken Paprikash with Pierogi from Garlicster, Kalyn’s 2006 Herb Blend from Kalyn’s Kitchen, Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Vinegar from The Kitchen – Apartment Therapy, Potato Latke Master Recipe from The Kosher Blog, Two Onion Tart from Live to Nibble, Truffle Egg Pasta from Local Eats, Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce from Pinch My Salt, Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula from Smitten Kitchen, Poblano Rice Cake from Too Many Chefs, Bread Pudding with Ham, Leeks, and Cheese from Trivialissimo, and Finnish Meatballs and Hummus from The Wednesday Chef. […]

  16. 16
    madchilli Says:


    This dish brings back memories of my time living in Italy for a year in 2003/2004. One of the places I grew to love was Sicily, especially Catania. We were taken to Bronte by my partner’s relative and had a dish similar to this one with the Bronte pistachio. It was sublime. We also had pistachio gelato. Beautiful.

  17. 17
    Megan Says:

    I just found your blog and I’m so glad I did! This pasta looks amazing – I’ll definitely have to give it a try. I look forward to reading more about your Sicilian adventures and recipes!

  18. HI!

    SIMPLY AMAZING.. Great RECIPES, congratulations for the blog;-)

    carnealfuoco.it – il piacere del barbecue

  19. This is so lovely, Nicole, much more complex and nuanced than the pistachio sauce I made (which was also pretty good–pistachios are so wonderful!) I am enjoying your writing and photography so much–I continue to be amazed anew every day by the wealth of deliciousness food bloggers have to offer!

  20. 20
    JB Says:

    I am making this recipe tonight, would it be ok to post a link to your post from my blog tomorrow?


  21. 21
    Katerina Says:

    I made this last night and it was absolutely wonderful, thanks a ton!

  22. 22
    Robin Brown Says:

    Nicole, My family and I just moved from Sicily to Tennessee. Talk about Italian food withdrawal! I was having a bad craving for the pistcchio pasta I used to eat in Motta Sant Anastasia at La Masseria del Cavaliere and I did not have the recipe. I sort of knew the ingredients that went into the pasta and I found your wonderful site. Your recipe is right on the mark! Grazie! Thank-you!!

  23. 23
    Augustina Says:

    I loved this dish! Thanku for sharing it. I love pistachios AND pasta so the two together was quite a treat for me. This is something I’ll definitely make again and again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. […] pasta is a beautiful discovery and I owe it all to Nicole from Pinch My Salt. I came across the recipe a week or two ago and have been saving it for a night when I felt like […]

  25. […] pasta is a beautiful discovery and I owe it all to Nicole from Pinch My Salt. I came across the recipe a week or two ago and have been saving it for a night when I felt like […]

  26. […] Iยดve finally figured out what to do with the stuff.ย  The answer is a recipe that I bookmarked years ago. It takes literally ten minutes and itยดs so good that I shall have to start buying my own […]

  27. […] night for dinner, Lisa made pasta with pistachio cream sauce, a typical Sicilian dish, and for dessert I made cranberry pistachio dark chocolate bark. Then we […]

  28. […] Recipe adapted from Pinch My Salt. […]

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