Gluten Free Pasta with Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Gluten Free Pasta with Pistachio Pesto Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on February 1, 2011

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Gluten Free Pasta with Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Ever had a gigantic craving for something then you go into the kitchen to whip it up only to find you lack the ingredients? Well, fortunately that very thing happened to me the other day.

I wanted gluten-free pasta with pesto. No, I didn’t want it – I had to have it! No choice in the matter whatsoever – my craving for pesto was bigger and more powerful than me; in fact my craving had taken on a life of its own.

Normally, pesto is one of those things I can whip up at a moments notice – the ingredients are usually just there, languishing in my kitchen, waiting for me. But not this day. I had used all my pine nuts making pignoli cookies and my little windowsill basil plant only had about 8 leaves on it. So off to the store I went.

I grabbed the only pine nuts I could find, a minuscule, Thumbalina –sized jar that cost $7.00! Seriously? $7.00 for maybe a couple tablespoons of pine nuts? Has someone been out there buying up all the pine nuts causing the price to soar? I don’t know, but I glanced at the next shelf and saw that I could get a decent sized bag of shelled pistachios for the same amount of money, so into my cart went the pistachios and off to the produce department for basil.

The only basil I could find was wilted and sad looking and again, much more expensive than a few leaves of something should be. OK, it is the dead of winter and not exactly basil growing weather so instead I grabbed a bag of baby spinach leaves and decided my 8 leaves of basil on the windowsill would have to suffice.

All of this craving/lack of ingredients/shopping dilemma lead me to discover a whole new pesto recipe, one that I love even more than traditional pesto. Not only was this pesto less expensive than my original recipe but it is also healthier – pistachios are much lower in saturated fat than pine nuts and as Popeye will tell you, spinach is good for you. But health and budget aside, this pesto is utterly delicious! In fact, this is my favorite pesto recipe ever! It is lighter, more complex and the color is fantastic.

Have you ever had a craving/lack of ingredients situation that lead to a new way to make a favorite recipe? Do share!

Click here to see my cooking demonstration of this recipe on Daytime TV!

Easy gluten free recipe - Pistachio Pesto with Gluten Free Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta with Pistachio Pesto Recipe


1 pound gluten free dried pasta
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
2 cups spinach leaves
½ cup basil leaves
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Zest (finely grated) and juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ – 1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

Optional garnishes:
Finely grated lemon zest
Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and salt liberally. Add the dried pasta and cook according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto.

Put the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the nuts are coarsely ground. Add the spinach, basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, pepper and ¼ cup olive oil. Process until smooth. If the pesto is too thick, add a little more olive oil. Taste and add a pinch of salt if desired.

Drain the pasta and return to the hot pot. Add the pesto and toss to coat the pasta.

Serve immediately with optional garnishes.


This Gluten Free Pasta with Pistachio Pesto recipe serves 4-6

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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Categories:    Main Dishes

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy February 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

This sounds amazing – love that it is cheaper and healthier!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

Me too!


Gina Pelella February 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I love your recipes. I cannot wait to try this one!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do – so quick & easy too!


Heather @Gluten-Free Cat February 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm

What a creative solution. Your picture looks divine!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

Thank you!


InTolerantChef February 2, 2011 at 6:15 am

Good thinking! I’m glad you got your ‘fix’ and discovered a new classic at the same time. Yumm…


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

Thanks and yes, yum is right :)


Rahul February 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm

This was AWESOME – thanks so much!!!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 3, 2011 at 9:08 am

You are very welcome Rahul!


Sarah February 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

I made this last night and it was fantastic! I agree, I like it better than the original. This was the best pesto I have ever eaten, the family loved it too. Thanks for the recipe!


Gluten Free Diva February 3, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Carol – this looks divine. And ya’ know, I was just looking at a bag of pistachios when I was at Costco the other day, and wondering if I could freeze them. I bet you can. Next time, I’m gonna get me some of those pistachios and make this delightful looking pesto! I am always looking for low-fat gluten free alternatives and I think this fits the bill. Yup!


Carol, Simply Gluten Free February 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

Hi Ellen,

Yes, pistachios freeze really well – I have a huge bag in my freezer right now!



Paulette Alm March 15, 2011 at 3:28 am

quite intriguing post


LEE June 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm



xixihaha567 September 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Maybe thats why I like it much much more than the others


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