pistachio pesto


More often than I care to admit, I hit a creativity road block and run out of dinner ideas. Yesterday was one of those days. I’d picked up a single pork tenderloin and thought about grilling it, but it was still a little too chilly out and I wasn’t in the mood for cleaning the grill after it hadn’t been used since last Fall. So, what to do with that little piece of pork?


I stood in front of the fridge for a few minutes looking for some inspiration, then I found a package of basil leaves that were left over from my spaghetti and turkey meatball recipe. My first thought was pesto..never made it, but had seen it done on TV enough times to know it was easy, so why not? But..no pine nuts..no walnuts. The only nuts in the house were some wasabi peanuts..and..oh yeah, that jar full of pistachios that I had hidden from myself. Pistachios in pesto? Why not?! I’d never seen a pesto recipe using pistachios, but after coming up with my own version, I just had to do a search, and yep, there are a lot of them out there. I just wish I’d thought of it sooner, because it’s really, really good!


If I’d planned ahead, I probably would have marinated the pork for a few hours, but no time for that yesterday, so I just seasoned it with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder, seared it in my trusty iron skillet, then roasted it in the oven for a few minutes along with some baby Yukon gold potatoes. For a more detailed explanation of how to roast a pork tenderloin, check out this recipe. So while the pork and potatoes were doing their thing in the oven, I had just enough time to pull out my mini food processor and make my pesto.


Just a handful of pistachios, a couple garlic cloves, juice from two lemons, a little olive oil, some grated parmesan cheese, and a small bunch basil leaves, all pulsed together until creamy. Most pesto recipes call for a ton of olive oil, but as I’m always trying to do things a little lighter, I cut back on the olive oil and added lemon juice. The lemon juice gave the pesto a really bright, tangy taste, and also helped keep the basil nice and green..the leftover pesto has been in my fridge almost 24 hours and still looks great! So good, so easy, and bursting with fresh flavors. It was great on the pork, and of course we dipped our potatoes in it too, and it would be just as good with chicken, seafood, pasta, or even tossed into some veggies. Isn’t it amazing what we can create when we start digging in the fridge and pantry?!


pistachio pesto
Prep time

Total time


You can use the bright and tangy pesto in all sorts of ways, and can easily make a bigger batch by doubling or tripling the ingredients.
Serves: 4

  • ¼ cup pistachios, shelled
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

  1. Place the pistachios and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts and garlic are finely chopped and start to form a thick paste.
  2. Add the cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and basil leaves and pulse until the consistency of a thick paste. If the pesto is too thick, add a little more lemon juice, olive oil, or just a small amount of water.
  3. Use in any recipe calling for pesto.




1 comment

  1. […] But if you can handle raw broccoli, feel free to skip the blanching step. For the pesto sauce, my pistachio pesto would be perfect, or use what your favorite pesto. Whatever type of pesto you use, you’ll need […]

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