Pine Nut Pesto Pasta is a fresh & flavorful dinner choice for those in a hurry. Toasting the pine nuts made my kitchen smell wonderful.
Pine Nut Pesto Pasta has just a few ingredients and is a cinch to whip up any weeknight. It is bursting with flavor and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Serve some garlic bread on the side, add a bottle of wine and you’re all set.
Food & wine pairing can be tricky. I had to research the subject, being more of a beer snob. I found some useful info on the Undiscovered Italy homepage.
Pairing pesto with wine can be difficult. (For clarity, we are talking about a traditional pesto of basil, garlic, pine nuts, EVOO and Parmesan.) The sauce is both pungent, with assertive flavors from the garlic and cheese, and delicate, as basil has quite a bit of nuance. Generally, whether looking for white or red wine, young, fruity, aromatic wines are far better than anything aged, overripe, oaky, or flabby. Good pesto is bright and fresh, so you want to find a wine that exhibits similar traits. Of course, another key consideration is what you are serving with the dish. A simple pasta dish dressed with pesto, for example, will probably work better with a white wine, but the addition of heartier ingredients such as sausage or tomatoes make red a viable option.
As is the case for most Italian food, the safest bet with any pairing is to follow the rule “if it grows together, it goes together”. Genoa, pesto’s homeland, is in Liguria, a small region on the Mediterranean coast just northwest of Tuscany. The indigenous white grape here is Vermentino, which makes lovely wines that offer rich flavors of tropical fruit but also bring great acidity, matching the dual personality of its sister sauce. Ligurian Vermentino is not exactly easy to come by in our area, but Sardinia’s Argiolas makes an excellent option –Costamolino ($14.99) – which is widely available and delicious for the price. Of course, other aromatic northern Italian whites can also work well, including Ligurian Pigato and Bianchetto Genovese, plus Arneis, Gavi and Soave.
Pine Nut Pesto Pasta was so simple to make. I’m always coming up with exotic dishes that take hours to prepare. So this was a respite from hot stove duty. I had plenty of leftovers too, that will be okay in the fridge for a few days. You could freeze it & pull it out when you just have no time to prepare a full meal.
You can use almonds, walnuts, or pistachios to replace the pine nuts if you fear the pine mouth. I had not heard of that syndrome until today, nor of anyone experiencing it. I should probably not even bring this up, but I find it a fascinating phenomenon. I’m a culinary adventurer, so I have no fear of puny nuts & seeds.
Pine nuts can cause taste disturbance. It’s known as pine nut mouth or pine nut syndrome. It causes everything you eat to have a bitter, metallic taste. Luckily it’s not permanent — it only lasts a couple of days. It’s hypothesized that the particular species of pine responsible for this is the Pinus armandii in China.
There are pine nuts you can buy from Italy, but they are hella expensive. Be brave. So what do you say? Let’s adventure boldly on to the Pine Nut Pesto Pasta recipe.
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles
- 4 oz. prepared basil pesto
- 1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup roasted pine nuts
- black pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese - for topping
- Bring salted water to a boil in a large stockpot
- Add spaghetti to pot - cook per package directions
- In a small skillet toast pine nuts over medium flame
- Shake pan frequently so all sides are golden and release aroma - about 3 minutes
- Toss noodles with olive oil and pesto
- Sprinkle with pepper, pine nuts, fresh basil, and cheese