This delicious pasta dish was inspired by one of many mouth-watering meals we had in Sicily on a family holiday in 2016. Pistachios were found on just about everything (even spaghetti alle vongole!). This particular dish was really memorable – because it was simply heavenly, but also because of the location we ate it in…
We were at Bellavista Ristorante, a seafront restaurant on the North-Eastern tip of Sicily, in Torre Faro, near Messina – the very tip of the island, in the Strait of Messina, from where you can see across to Calabria.
In the photos below, you can see Hannah on the beach in Torre Faro, with Calabria a short distance away across the Strait, followed by the original creamy pistachio and pancetta pasta dish we ate in the restaurant.
So, nearly four years later, while having fun experimenting in the kitchen and creating recipes under the ‘Cooking with my daughter’ part of this blog (see also our Instagram account for photos, reels and live videos!), we decided to finally re-create this amazing yet incredibly simple dish.
In our recipe, we used home-made orecchiette (mixing up our regions, as orecchiette are from Puglia, but that’s ok – they work well with this sauce) – watch this space for the orecchiette recipe. They are remarkably simple to make. Meanwhile, take a look at our quick preview reel on Instagram.
Creamy pistachio and pancetta pasta sauce – Ingredients
(for 4 generous portions)
- 200g diced pancetta (unsmoked)
- 500ml single cream
- 150g ground pistachios (we use the nut chopping/grinding attachment on the Nutribullet, which does this in seconds)
- fine sea salt – to taste
Pasta – which one, and quantities…
Use a short pasta of your choice. We used home-made orecchiette (recipe coming soon!), but lots of different types of short pasta will work. For 4 generous portions, as a single-course meal, you will need around 500g of dry pasta.
If you are being more traditional and having this dish as a ‘primo piatto’ to be followed by a meat or fish dish, you’ll want to roughly halve the portions for the pasta and the sauce.
Place a large pan of water over a high heat and add a generous amount of coarse sea salt (about a handful) and a few drops of vegetable oil.
While the pasta water comes to the boil, prepare the creamy pistachio and pancetta sauce:
In a large sauté pan, fry off the pancetta over a medium heat until it has browned and crisped off.
Drain off most of the fat, then reduce the heat to low and add the cream to the pan. Stir from time to time and, once the cream is simmering, stir in most of the pistachios (save about 25g for sprinkling later). Check for taste and add a little bit of fine sea salt if needed.
Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta to your liking (is there any other way than ‘al dente’?!). Once cooked, drain and add to the sauce in the sauté pan. Stir through with the low heat still on, then take off the heat and serve.
Sprinkle the remaining ground pistachios over each portion.