In early 2007 my young son began barfing at random intervals after eating. I won't go into the whole saga here (you can read the article I wrote for EatingWell), but when he was taken off nearly every food known to man, salvation came in a most unexpected form.
I know, I know. It makes no sense. Nut allergies are among the most common and certainly the most deadly, but none of my son's allergy tests indicated nuts were a trigger for him. So when the doc wanted to eliminate them just in case, I stood firm. The kid needed protein, and without dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, pork or fish, I was adamant that the nuts would stay. (He's now back to a normal diet, so there's a happy ending.)
Anyway, I started making pesto without cheese, and the pistachio version became a massive hit. Even now, 18 months later, my son is still a raging pestoholic. Pesto pasta. Pesto pizza. Pesto shrimp. If he could bathe in it, he would. It's all pesto all the time around here. Especially in the summer.
And the cheese is back in. Hallelujah.
Can you even imagine a life without cheese?
Recipe for Lifesaving Toasted Pistachio Pesto
This is a really basic pesto recipe, adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis. Here, I use pistachios instead of the more traditional pine nuts. Toasting the pistachios first adds a marked depth of flavor, so please don't be lazy. I'll let you use roasted pistachios if you can find them.
1 medium garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted
1-3/4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
scant 2/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
additional salt and pepper, to taste
Drop the garlic into the food processor along with the toasted nuts, basil, and scant 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and bright green. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube. Process until it emulsifies.
Use a thin rubber spatula to scrape the pesto into a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan, and season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with additional olive oil.