Salsa di Pistacchi
Another delicious Ligurian sauce for pasta is salsa di noci, a walnut based sauce that is like a paste, it is typically eaten with Pansotti, which are a filled pasta with swiss chard, fresh herbs and ricotta. Delicious and delicate. My husband, unfortunately, is allergic to walnuts, so I have never tried to make a salsa di noci at home. But after my fairly successful pesto experiment I thought that I could experiment with the idea of a salsa di noci with a nut that my husband is not allergic too.
Since pistachios are safe, I figured that I would take the same concept of the salsa di noci and give it a Sicilian twist using pistachios, mint and ricotta salata as opposed to walnuts, marjoram and prescinseua, which is the cheese used in Liguria’s sauce.
It turned out to be as delicate as a salsa di noci, though the flavor of the pistachios was not as strong as I would have wanted it to be. I translated a recipe from a Ligurian cookbook for salsa di noci, and they suggested to blanch the walnuts for a minute before grinding them, which I did with the pistachios. The next time I make this, I’ll skip blanching the pistachios, which may preserve their flavor.
I’ll also attempt to make pansotti!
Salsa di Pistacchi
- 1 cup of shelled pistachios
- breadcrumbs from 2 slices of white bread
- ¼ cup of pine nuts
- 1 small clove of garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- ½ cup of grated ricotta salata, and extra to sprinkle on the pasta
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for a few minutes.
Blanch the shelled pistachios in salted water for one minute, then crush them in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor with the pine nuts, garlic and the bread crumbs which have been soaked and strained. Set the milk aside to add to the sauce as needed.
Add the mint leaves and when everything has become a consistent paste add the ricotta salata, the oil and add the milk a little at a time until the sauce has a creamy consistency.
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Ladle some of the pasta water into a large serving bowl and stir in the salsa di pistacchi, add the drained pasta and toss to coat. Add the extra sprigs of mint and toss, serve immediately with grated ricotta salata.
*I don’t recommend substituting ricotta salata with parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano because both cheeses have very strong, definite flavors. If you don’t want to use ricotta salata, you could replace the cheese blended into the sauce with fresh ricotta, it will add to the creamy texture.