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Late summer is my favorite. I have a small container garden brimming with fresh herbs and a few other items. I love, love, love making pesto with my garden herbs. This year I went all out and planted a TON of sweet basil, Thai basil, oregano, three types of mint, two types of thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and two kinds of sage. Fresh herbs elevate everyday recipes and make them feel a bit more special.
This delicious Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and Fresh Mozzarella uses three of my favorite herbs: basil, mint, and oregano. The herbs complement each other and harmonize well, plus they taste great with zucchini. But the real star of this pesto is the pistachios.
Usually for pesto I use raw nuts or seeds, but for this recipe I chose roasted and salted Wonderful Pistachios No Shells. Holy moly! They add such a nice flavor. And the best part: the pistachios are already shelled! That cuts down dramatically on prep time and makes these tasty little green gems even more pop-able. One for the pesto, two for me, another for the pesto, a handful for me…
I declared this the best pesto I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted a LOT of pesto in my days. To brighten things up, I also added grated lemon zest and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. The pistachios make the pesto kind of creamy, so no cheese is needed; however, I love adding fresh mozzarella to this. (But it can easily be made vegan by eliminating the mozzarella.) I like the small, cherry-sized Ciliegine mozzarella balls, but cubed fresh mozz works great too. And if you really want a treat, try making it with burrata….sigh.
I call for gemelli pasta in this recipe. I love the way the twists pick up the pesto and grab onto it. Any other favorite pasta shape works too.
Zucchini is something every garden seems to have plenty of by the end of the summer. If you can get zucchini on the tinier side, they are a little less pithy and taste very sweet. Larger zucchini tends to be on the bitter side. (Save it for grating and adding to muffins!)
I also prefer the zucchini to be barely warmed up by the heat of the pasta. It stays tender-crisp and doesn’t turn to mush. No one likes mushy zucchini, right? I mean, if you do, that’s fine…no judgement. 😉 If you do prefer the zucchini to be a little more cooked, toss it into the pot with the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking. Don’t forget to save a little of the pasta cooking water in case you need to thin the pesto out a bit.
This yummy everyday recipe comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Bonus: it also tastes great cold out of the fridge, making it a two-fer. Serve it up warm for dinner with a nice glass of white wine, then have any leftovers cold for the next day’s lunch as a yummy pasta salad.
Don’t be afraid to add extra veggies here too. I went with simple, but you could certainly add other garden veggies like cherry tomatoes, fresh corn, eggplant, bell peppers, etc. For the topping, I added extra pistachios. I just love their nutty crunch with that hint of salt. They are so dreamy in this dish. You’ve got to love the versatility of pistachios!