Pasta with Black Olive and Pistachio Pesto-Fast and Fabulous! (2021 variation added)

I originally posted this recipe about a month after I started by blog….so maybe 10 people saw it?  I just had to put it out there again, because this is just too good not to!

We eat this dish at least twice a month….and that’s more than a year after we came up with it.  You don’t get tired of really good food.  My 15 year old son makes it (really-its that easy).  It’s a variation on a recipe from “The Essential Pasta Cookbook.”   From start to table is only 45 minutes.  It has great flavor and makes you (the cook) look like you have really made something fancy.  A true “good food not much time” success!  (update 2021) You can make some nice variations on this dish.  My favorite is adding fresh cilantro and just a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Yes, we still eat this and it is still my 23 year old son’s favorite pasta dish!


Note:   You can choose to “pre-grind” the peppercorns in a rotary grinder (old cheap coffee grinder) first because adding whole peppercorns in the food processor just doesn’t grind them very much.  In fact, some don’t get ground much at all.  This will give your dish a much bigger “pepper punch” if you don’t pre-grind.  My family actually prefers the stronger pepper flavor.  So…to each their own!

You’ll need:

1/2 cup of shelled pistachios

4 cloves of peeled, trimmed garlic

1 Tbs black peppercorns, ground or whole (see note)

2 Tbs lemon juice

(2021) 1 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and 2-3 Tbs of good balsamic vinegar

1 can (5-6oz) of pitted black olives, drained

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmesan or Asiago

olive oil (about 1/2 cup)

One package of frozen grilled chicken, defrosted (See Grilled chicken post).  Or you can use deli chicken as well.  You need about 2 cups of diced, cooked chicken (or diced pork chops, even grilled meatballs)

1 package of your favorite pasta, cooked and drained

1 16 oz package of frozen green peas

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add salt once boiling temp is reached.

Add one package of Penne (or pasta of your choice) and cook to almost al dente.  Add one pound package of frozen peas to boiling water and pasta.  Turn up heat to bring water temp back up.  Once pasta is done.  Drain peas and pasta and return to pot.


While pasta is cooking….

Put 1 Tbs of black or green peppercorns in a rotary grinder and pulse until roughly ground; do not fine grind (optional)

In a food processor combine pistachios, garlic, peppercorns, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, balsamic vinegar, black olives and Parmesan.

With processor running, add approximately 1/2 cup good olive oil and blend until the mixture is smooth.

Microwave thawed chicken for 1 minute or until hot.

Add sauce and chicken to drained pasta/peas in original cooking pot.  Mix well and serve with extra Parmesan.  Enjoy!


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