Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

I know pesto is already summery in it’s own right, but this pesto recipe is like a brighter, more summery version. When I was brainstorming this pesto the other day, I really got thinking: what nut is officially the “nut of the summer” or a “summery nut?” What a UNIQUE question to come running upstairs to ask my husband, but it got me thinking….what is it?!?! So, I naturally took a poll on Instagram and we all unanimously decided that pistachio is the nut of the summer (lol – what is my life.) In second place was the walnut, but it was a 60/40 split between “summery and not summery” nut.

lemony pistachio pesto

Aaaaand that poll paved the way for this recipe! To put it simply: this is a lemony pesto. We’ve got lots and lots and lots of basil with lemon zest and lemon juice. Instead of pine nuts, we are (obvi) using pistachios. Then, we are adding both Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses to add salt and umami elements. And you can’t forget the highest of the highest quality extra virgin olive oil!!! I love California Extra Virgin Olive Oil for this (and for every salad, tbh.) I’m saying “we” because if you’ve made it this far in the blog post, I’m just assuming that we are making it together.

Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

Before we get started, I want to point out the format of this blog post so there’s no confusion. Below, you will find 2 recipes. One is for the pesto (which you can serve on anything, tbh – don’t sleep on pesto eggs with this lemony pistachio pesto!) and the other is for the pasta salad, which is so f*$#1293084ing good…”I can’t even.” Oh ALSO, you can serve this hot! It doesn’t have to be a cold pasta dish. I’m a *huge* fan of this pesto hot, cold, lukewarm, etc. This is a very passionate paragraph because I have a lot to say and I love this pasta salad!!!!

By the way, if you’re vegan, skip the mozz and it’s still just as delicious. And if you’re gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta!

Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

And as (almost) always, here’s a mini video Instagram reel showing you how to make this dish 🙂

lemony pistachio pesto

Lemony Pistachio Pesto

Classic pesto with a summery spin! Lots of lemon, pistachio instead of pine nuts and lots and lots of fresh sweet basil!
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 15 mins
Course Dip, Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup of pesto

Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients
  

  • 2 1/2 cups tightly packed basil leaves washed and dried off
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios shells removed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt I recommend using Diamond Kosher Salt. If using sea salt, just a pinch is fine
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan *freshly grated from the block is best
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano *freshly grated from the block is best

Instructions
 

  • Put the basil, pistachios, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and kosher salt into a food processor bowl, and process to a uniform, smooth consistency. Taste to make sure you're happy with the acid levels. If you want more lemon, add more lemon juice and blend.
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses with a spoon until combined. Taste to make sure you like the umami/salt levels. If not, add more cheese or another pinch of salt.
  • Serve immediately or store in a tightly sealed mason jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. You can also freeze in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.
Keyword basil, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, lemon, Parmesan, pecorino romano, pistachios
Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

Gemelli smothered in lemony pistachio pesto, tossed with spicy arugula and topped with fresh pearl mozzarella. This is a crowd pleaser on a hot summer day (or just any day!) Great for meal prep as well.
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 entree portions (8 appetizer portions)

Ingredients
  

  • 16 oz. gemelli pasta can sub another pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup lemony pistachio pesto *recipe is above*
  • 6 tightly packed cups arugula washed and dried
  • 1 cup pearl mozzarella balls can sub cubed fresh mozzarella
  • Lemon zest for topping
  • Extra virgin olive oil for topping

Instructions
 

  • Fill a stock pot with water until it's 3/4 of the way full. Add 1-2 tbsp of salt (or salt the water according to the pasta package.) Bring to a boil.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until 1 minute before al dente (it will residually cook as it cools down and we don't want floppy pasta.) Drain the pasta into a collander. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop any residual cooking.
  • Once the pasta is at least room temperature, pour it into a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss until the pasta is coated. Add the arugula and pearl mozzarella and toss until fully combined. Serve on a platter and top with extra lemon zest and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy immediately, or store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
Keyword arugula, basil, extra virgin olive oil, gemelli, lemon, Parmesan, pearl mozzarella, pecorino romano, pistachios

2 thoughts on “Lemony Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad”

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing!! Your blogs are my go to when I need recipe ideas. And this recipe is my absolute fave (so far!)
    This is so easy to make and is super tasty! I definitely make this pretty often.

    1. Aw yay!!! I am so happy you love this recipe and thank you for the kind words and for following along!

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