Pasta with Pistachios from Bronte

My Sicilian Maria friend invited me and a few other girls over to lunch just before Christmas and made the most gorgeous gnocchi in a pistachio sauce (that and lots of other dishes) and, for good measure!, she also gave us a packet of pistachio ‘flour’ to take home with us.  Everyone knows how generous Sicilians truly are.

Anyway … the pistachios in question hail from Bronte in Sicily and enjoy the reputation of being the very best you could lay your hands on.  You can read all about it on the following link: … but here is a snippet in the meantime: “The pistachio (from the Greek Pistàkion) was already known to Assyrians and Greeks as a medicinal drug, a powerful aphrodisiac and as an antidote against bites of poisonous creatures.  Avicenna, considered the Hippocras and the Aristotle of the Muslim East, in his “Canon of Medicine” prescribed it against liver diseases and as an aphrodisiac.”

During the high middle ages, it was the Arabs that, having taken away  Sicily from the Byzantine, incremented the pistachio cultivation and this had a great expansion in the territory of Bronte. Of Arab origin are, in fact, the words frastuca and frastucara that respectively indicate the fruit (in Arab “fustuq”) and the plant.”

Now that we know that the pistachio is a powerful aphrodisiac (maybe because it is rich in Vitamin E?), we’ll have all the more reason to want to eat it.  Oysters, chocolate, pistachios … all good.

The actual recipe for the pasta dish (copied from the gnocci dish that Maria had made) is pretty straightforward.  It calls for: ham (yes! ham .. incredible), cream (yes! even more incredible … cream and Sicily are not two words you would associate in the same sentence) and freshly grated parmesan cheese (enough with the exclamation marks but you get the picture).  In other words, it’s easy and it is ‘assembling’ much more than ‘cooking’ — and thus very useful on occasion.

IMG_6399Grate the parmesan …
IMG_6400 Get your cream out of the fridge …IMG_6401Here are about 200g of plain ham (prosciutto cott), the spaghetti and the packet of bronte pistachio flour.
IMG_6402 IMG_6403Roughly chop the ham (on the left) … and open the packet (on the right).
IMG_6404 Pour some olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan … I added some peppercorns.  I love pepper, what can I say. (And it is so good for you, by the way).IMG_6405Switch the heat on and add the chopped up ham …
IMG_6406 Then the cream …IMG_6407 And, last, the pistachios.  Reserve some of the pistachio for garneshing at the end.IMG_6408 Cook for as long as it takes for the flavours to combine (hardly any time at all).IMG_6409 I thought a little bit of bottarga wouldn’t go amiss … so I placed one in a bowl together with a grater, to put on the table … so that those who wanted it could grate it directly onto their plate.IMG_6410 When the spaghetti had cooked, I plopped them into the saucepan and combined them properly with the sauce.IMG_6411 I sprinkled the parmesan and some more pistachios over the individual plates.IMG_6412 And my husband, who loves bottarga, grated a liberal amount all over his plate.IMG_6413A close-up.

It was good.  And we were all hungry and that always helps.  However, it wasn’t anything to write home about as such … which was a pity, considering how truly lovely the pistachio flour was.  I’ll have to work at this recipe.

winter salad

To follow?  A lovely fresh salad with oranges (also from Sicily), olives, fine slithers of fennel and … an out-of-season indulgence … a few starwberries.  Olive oil and balsamic vinegar etc.

About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in Herbs and plants, italian home food, Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto), Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Pasta with Pistachios from Bronte

  1. Darya says:

    Yummy! I sometimes make a pistachio pasta, but it is quite different from yours, and I really like the association of ham, parmesan, and pistachio!

  2. Hi! I have used pistachios in pasta before ( but this was the first time I’d used pistachio flour.

  3. Lovely, Jo! I generally hold on the cream and ham and toast the pistachio flour, a few chopped pistachios and pinoli in a sauce pan with no oil first to give them a bit of a smoky flavor. I then add fresh olive oil, grate a lemon peel and some wild fennel and then toss on the pasta with a touch of the magic acqua di cottura. Of course a generous sprinkling of the Sicilian “muddicata”, or toasted bread crumbs, on top! Much lighter version, I’ll admit but yummy just the same!

    • Oh gosh, thank you for this input! I did use the cooking water (acqua di cottura) — basically I always do, to finish off the pasta. I didn’t know it was okay to toast the flour: it makes sense! And I love the idea of the crunch factor of the muddicata …The prosciutto e panna business really flummoxed me … doesn’t sound at all Sicilian to me … so I think yours sounds a lot more ‘authentic’ !!! Finocchiella selvatica (fresh) is impossible to get around here …

  4. chef mimi says:

    Isn’t the flour just finely ground pistachios? So you could make it yourself? Thanks

  5. Francesca says:

    Absolutely! Pistachios from Bronte are the best. I can only dream about them where I live. This recipe is fantastic and I’m going to ask my parents to bring me some pistachio flour when they come to visit so I can try your recipe. Thank you, Jo!

  6. Jo, This recipe is marvelous! I really like creamy pastas and with pistachios in it, wow! I just checked your other post on pistachio pesto too. I made pistachio pesto two days ago and have a post scheduled for next Wednesday. Compared to what I saw in your posts, mine is so elementary. I still have so much to learn. You know how we Iranians are partial to pistachios. 😀 Fae.

  7. Going to Sicily next month, so I’ll have to look for this. How about making pasta out of the pistacchio flour?

  8. Oh, love the idea of pistacchio pasta! That’s clever. And I really like the tips given by nearly30yearsitalian. You’re going to nail this one, big time!

  9. sybaritica says:

    What a great technique. I’ve not seen the pastachio flour before but I have the nuts and a grinder… must try 🙂

  10. Pingback: Fruits from the Fifties | Gareth Jones Food

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