paccheri pasta with mozzarella prosciutto and pistachios

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

In our recent travels to Italy we might have stumbled upon the most scrumptious and most delicious blend of flavors in one dish, ever. We were in Italy for a total of 9 days in which we returned twice to the restaurant and once my stepmother recreated the dish in her home from us, making pistachio pesto pasta a summer hit!

Upon returning to the U.S. we made sure to bring with us some of the ingredients to re create and share this new recipe with friends and family in the states. After serving them the dish, all guests were raving and begging for the recipe.

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Flavor Profiles

What made this dish so so so good is its different flavor profiles. Using pistachios as the main ingredient in addition to basil made the pesto more mild while giving it a mildly sweeter and lighter flavor. The crispy prosciutto gave the dish its crunch and salty profile. The buffalo mozzarella was extra creamy creating a luscious mouth feel and accompanying the Paccheri pasta which holds its own in depth being a wider noodle and able to sustain all the items in the dish.

About the Prosciutto

Have you ever tried crispy prosciutto? If not you are in for a delightful treat! It is very similar to bacon however leaves way less of a fat residue when cooking and is all around lighter on the palette and stomach when consumed. My favorite recipe for crisping prosciutto is from Martha Stewart. Once the prosciutto has cooled I just pick it up and crumble it up right into a side dish and make sure its the last thing I add to the dish so it keeps its crunch.

a plate of raw prosciutto on a wooden cutting board
raw prosciutto before it gets cooked

Its All About The Pasta

Up until recently you couldn’t find Paccheri pasta anywhere around my area in CT. Thanks to a lot more Italian importing companies and good ole’ amazon, now its just a click away! I will say it is much more expensive than a regular box of barilla costing anywhere from $11 to $16 a bag HOWEVER, it is so worth it for a dish as complex as our pistachio pesto pasta.

Originating in Naples, Paccheri pasta is a wide noodle. Used mostly in seafood dishes and/or “heavy” sauces. In the Napoletan dialect, pacca stands for a slap and so paccheri is known as the slapping pasta, but not in a bad way. Italians say that because the pasta makes a “slapping” noise when you are pouring sauce over it so the name stuck! Paccheri was also known to be “the poor persons pasta” because of its size you would need less to fill up on and was cheaper to make.

You can find Paccheri pasta in any high end Italian grocer or on amazon if you have a few days to wait for it.

image of paccheri pasta raw
Paccheri pasta we used in our pistachio pesto pasta

When Mozzarella & Pistachios meet

You might have heard about buffalo mozzarella before if you have visited an Italian restaurant or in your travels to Italy. La mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) is made with milk from an Italian Mediterranean buffalo. Its biggest differentiation from regular mozzarella is how extraordinarily creamy it is. You can pull it apart with your hands to top the pistachio pesto pasta off or if you want to try it with tomatoes and fresh basil you will enjoy a delicious caprese salad! Oh, and you will need a smidge of balsamic glaze on your caprese, of course!

Pistachios might be my favorite nut. It is so versatile. Yes, it holds its own but it also is adaptable to so many other flavors. Tangy, sweet and crunchy, it makes the perfect add on in this dish once paired with the salty prosciutto and creamy buffalo mozzarella.

Buon Appetito!

This is one of those dishes that you just HAVE to try, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do and I hope you can share a photo and or comment on how it came out! For more Italian food and recipes like this visit us at The Best Of Italian.

Pasta al pesto di pistacchio

Recipe by Sabrina HebertCuisine: lunch, dinner


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Pesto
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 

  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

  • 1 cup roasted shelled pistachios 

  • salt & pepper to your liking

  • For the pasta
  • 1 package of Paccheri Pasta

  • About 8 slices of crispy prosciutto

  • 4 small buffalo mozzarella balls

  • 3/4 cup crushed pistachios


  • Cook the paccheri pasta according to the package (make sure its aldente though!), reserve one cup of pasta water.
  • While the pasta water boils, make the pesto by combining all the pesto ingredients in a food processor until well combined
  • Once the pasta is cooked and strained add the pasta and pesto sauce in the pan and fold the pasta so it is evenly coated with the pesto, add as little or as much of the hot pasta water to make the pesto thicker or thinner based on the consistency you prefer!
  • Plate the paccheri pasta coated with the pesto on a serving dish. Then top dish with pieces of the buffalo mozzarella, crushed pistachios and the crispy prosciutto.
  • Buon Appetito!

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