Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Go nuts! The little green nut sheds its shell for a great garden recipe perfect for everything from fish to pasta. 

Pistachios

Pistachios

Photo by: Image courtesy of American Pistachio Growers

Image courtesy of American Pistachio Growers

According to the American Pistachio Growers, pistachios are a good source of vitamins B1 and B6. 

How much do you know about your pistachios? Famous for its split shell, there’s a long story behind the little green nut. According to the American Pistachio Growers, the pistacia vera tree came from western Asia and Asia Minor, spread to the Mediterranean and is now at home in the American West. 

Alexx Guevara, executive chef at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, uses local pistachios for his heart of palm cakes with pistachio pesto, a popular vegetarian dish. “We have several nut farms with a 30-mile radius of the Ranch, so all of the nuts we source are locally grown,” he says. “Pistachios are vital to heart, eye and skin health, with big benefits to the nervous and immune systems,” he says. “We use them in this recipe for their thermagenic properties for burning fat.” 

Full of basil, cilantro and garlic, his pistachio pesto puts the pine nut version in the shade. “The pistachio lends a more floral, herbal flavor, which in turn adds a cooling effect on the palate after the spiciness of the whole grain mustard in the hearts of palm cakes,” he says. “If you thin it out just a little more with some vegetable stock, it’s a great sauce alternative for pasta or grain dishes.”

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Pistachio Pesto

Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound heart of palm, steamed (canned can substitute for steamed and will not need steaming)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, small dice
  • ½ cup shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • ¼ cup grain mustard
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 peppadews, chopped
  • ¼ cup pistachio pesto (recipe follows)
  • 3-4 ounces quinoa flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Tabasco to taste

Preheat convection oven to 480 degrees. In a steam basket, steam hearts of palm until fork tender and let cool. 

Once hearts are cool, pulse in a food processor a few times until hearts of palm reach a crab-like consistency. Set aside. 

In a sauté pan, quickly sauté the red bell peppers and shallots, let cool. 

Combine the processed hearts of palm and cooled pepper and shallot mix. 

Combine the parsley, whole grain mustard, lemon juice/zest and peppadews with the hearts of palm mixture. 

Gradually add quinoa flakes and some of the pistachio pesto. This is your binder. You want the consistency to be soft/sticky enough to hold shape but not too dry. 

Use the black pepper, salt and Tabasco. Adjust to taste. 

Shape the cakes using a two-ounce scoop and place on a silicone mat or on a sprayed sheet pan. 

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until crispy outside and soft middle is achieved.

Pistachio Pesto

  • 1 ½ cups basil
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup or more vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust consistency with more stock and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

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