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So far it has been a mild winter in Reno with hardly any snow. The ski resorts in Tahoe have been practically begging people to come ski on their man-made snow. This week though, there was finally some snow (real snow!) in the forecast. To prepare myself, I wanted to cook something warm, hearty, and comforting. So I turned to pasta. My husband is a quarter Italian, and it seems like we don’t eat far enough pasta. Maybe it’s the whole living in American thing, with all the low carb diets were told to live our lives by. Or maybe it’s because the packaged pasta in our grocery stores are just not that good. But most likely, it’s because good tasting pasta and sauce take time.  

Because I only had an hour to spend in the kitchen, I thought pesto would be the perfect compromise. Pesto is awesome because everyone loves it, it is full of flavor, and it doesn’t require any cooking (just heating). I was also inspired by a recent picture I had just seen of a pesto dish on Pinterest (is anyone else addicted?). The thing that made me do a double take was that it was an avocado pesto. I have never used avocado as a base for a sauce before, but the creaminess and richness sounded perfect for pesto. I started to look at different recipes, but most included lime and cilantro and had more of a mexican take. I definitely wanted Italian flavors, so I came up with my own recipe of garlic, lemon, basil, olive oil, & pistachio (I still had a lot of pistachios left over from my National Pistachio Day Scones). I threw all the ingredients in my Cuisinart, and the sauce was done in 5 minutes. This left me with enough time to make semolina pasta from scratch (see my recipe for Basic Semolina Pasta). The two in combination were so good together. The homemade pasta had a nice meaty texture, giving the dish body, while the pesto was bright, creamy, and had just enough acid to cut through the fat of the avocado. I would have loved to thrown leftovers in the fridge for lunch the next day to see if the avocado would hold up, but my husband and I ate it all! I guess that’s proof that this recipe will have staying power in our house.

Avocado Pistachio Pesto Recipe
Makes: 2 cups pesto
*When tossed with pasta it makes 2 large portions, 4 smaller portions

2 Garlic Cloves (you can use more or less based on your taste)
1/4 cup Pistachios – toasted
2 Avocados – large & ripe
1 bunch Basil (or about a cup)
1 Lemon – zest & juice
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vegetable or Chicken stock or reserved pasta water
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 cups cooked Pasta*

*For fresh homemade pasta use this Basic Semolina Pasta Recipe
*If you want, toss the pasta with some sautéed veggies or grilled chicken (I added some sautéed kale)

  1. Using a food processor, blend the garlic and pistachios together. Then add the avocados, basil, lemon zest & juice. Blend until well mixed. Slowly add the oil and season to your liking. The pesto will be quite thick.  
  2. Cook the pasta to al dente, and strain. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water if you don’t have chicken or vegetable stock on hand.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the hot pasta with the avocado pesto and the stock or reserved pasta water. Garnish with cheese if you wish and additional chopped pistachios.
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