Hi my name is Jessica and I am freaking out over pistachios.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti I howsweeteats.com

So pretty! So green! So salty!

I’m easily amused. Also, aggressive exclamation points.

It all started with pistachio gelato. Cannot get enough. At all. Which is insane because who the heck wants nuts in their ice cream? Not I. It then warped into some weird infatuation with wanting pistachios inside of other things, like even baked goods. And you know that I hate nuts in my treats. I stand firm that nuts belong in a cute bowl on your coffee table. Not in your cookies.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti I howsweeteats.com

Oh but you know what? In the midst of my pistachio freakout a few months ago, I made these killer pistachio chocolate chip cookies over Easter weekend – like I ground the pistachios into a pretty green powder so they flavored the cookies but didn’t give you the unfavorable nut crunch. (I am five years old and am now giggling.) No one wants that in their cookies. Right? So I did that. Ummm yeeeeah. Incredibly delicious and made even the nuts-in-cookies haters happy.

Then I forgot the recipe. Didn’t write it down. Well, maybe I did write it down but in my sea of paper scraps – it is lost for good. My own kitchen needs a lost and found. It’s seriously pathetic. I have lists on my phone and scattered in notebooks all over the house. I much prefer to write my lists with pen and paper (because, well, I just love to physically WRITE) but sometimes the phone is all I’ve got. The Notes section of my iPhone is a jumbled mess of meaningless nothings. My car is trashed with little scraps of paper that I like to call grocery lists and forget on my front seat when I go to the store. It’s like I am physically incapable of removing those little paper pieces from my car. Those and water bottles.

My backseat is where half-full and very empty water bottles go to die. This may be grounds for divorce.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti I howsweeteats.com

So pesto. You know, I am weird about this stuff. My favorite version is made with arugula but I thought that may overpower these cute little green nuts. A few months ago I made a triple herb kale pesto that just made me feel excellent since it contained about four days worth of my vegetable consumption. But then again… I feel that way about anything that is green.

I seared some chicken to the point where it was almost caramely. Super golden and even a little crispy on the outside. I cover the chicken in the pesto, but also tossed just the tiniest bit into the pasta with some red pepper flakes. I don’t suggest adding a ton to the spaghetti – you don’t want to get pesto-ed out. This way you have just a hint of it in your noodles and a lot of extra room for inappropriate amounts of cheese.

As it should be.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti I howsweeteats.com


Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Yield: serves 4

Total Time: 35 minutes


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese

1 cup shelled pistachios
10 large basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, torn
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring water for pasta to a boil.

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large oven-safe skillet on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes each.

While the chicken is cooking, add pistachios, basil, parsley, garlic and cheese to a food processor. Pulse and blend until the nuts are coarsely chopped, then with the processor on, stream in 1/3 cup of olive oil. Add a little more if necessary, depending on how "spreadable" you want your pesto to be. Finish by adding in salt and blending once more. Spread a thin layer of pesto on top of each chicken breast in the skillet, then place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

While chicken is baking, boil pasta and prepare according to directions. Once finished, drain pasta and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, about 1/4 cup of pesto, the red pepper flakes and grated pecorino. You just want a very light coating of pesto on the noodles. Once chicken is done, remove and spread a little additional pesto on top. Serve together!

Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti I howsweeteats.com

I like you.

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65 Responses to “Pistachio Pesto Chicken with Whole Wheat Spaghetti.”

  1. #
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker — May 13, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    using pistachios makes for a lovely twist on pesto. Fully green and totally delicious. You need to try this on Verde pasta or in pasta alla genovese; believe me it is nutrient overload.


  2. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — May 13, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    Ahh this sounds so good! I am also going through a pistachio craze, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but they’re pretty much my new almond! I learned that Bulk Barn sells the already-shelled kind, which makes it even easier to grind them up for recipes like this (or just toss straight into my mouth). Great photos Jess!


  3. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — May 13, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    Ummm, yum!!! Love pistachios and I love pesto! What a wonderful combination!!!


  4. #
    Tieghan — May 13, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    This looks so good! Pistachios are the salty nut around and I love um!


  5. #
    Joelle (on a pink typewriter) — May 13, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    I feel like pistachios are an acquired taste… I used to think they were gross til this last year.


  6. #
    Annie @ my fuel and fitness diaries — May 13, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Holy moly this looks awesome! I love pistachios I bet this is amaaaaaazing.


  7. #
    Luv What You Do — May 13, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    This looks INCREDIBLE!
    I wish I was having this for dinner tonight!


  8. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 13, 2013 @ 8:48 am

    I want that pesto sauce! I would smear that over just about everything!


  9. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — May 13, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    Golly green pesto. Just beautiful! Reminds me of everything I love about Spring. Dinner party? You can bring a whole pot of pesto, and I’ll bring an enormous loaf of bread ;-)


  10. #
    Heather @ A Sweet Simple Life — May 13, 2013 @ 9:13 am

    Such a great color and I love that you put it on chicken. Delish!


  11. #
    the 3volution of j3nn — May 13, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    I was just thinking how underused pistachios are in my life. Yes. I think about food too much. :)


  12. #
    Carly @ Snack Therapy — May 13, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    I was at a Farmer’s Market on Friday and sampled an avocado-flavored pistachio. Yummiest thing ever. Plus, Psy eats pistachios, so I should too!


    • Jessica — May 13th, 2013 @ 9:34 am

      what! avocado pistachio? i want!


  13. #
    Lauren — May 13, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    I am obsessed with pistachio gelato. Can’t wait to try this out!


  14. #
    Katie @ Veggie and the Beast — May 13, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    I’m going to need you to find that cookie recipe, because pistachio crumbs in my cookies sound like the best thing ever.


  15. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — May 13, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    Gurl you know pistachio pesto is my jaaaam. I mean peeeeesto. My pesto jam? My jam pesto?

    I’m going back to bed.


  16. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — May 13, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    So yummy! A must-make this spring, for sure!


  17. #
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie — May 13, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    I’ve been freaking out about avocados for months now. Anything I see that includes them I want. But of course that doesn’t mean I don’t want this is my belly immediately.


  18. #
    Kathy — May 13, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    This looks delish! Especially on the chicken!


  19. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — May 13, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    Holyyyyyyy cow. Want!!!


  20. #
    Not Only Sugar — May 13, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    I love pistacchio!!!

    Not Only Sugar


  21. #
    Heather — May 13, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    You had me at salty – OMG I can’t even get over how good this sounds!


  22. #
    Jenni — May 13, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    I love pistachios! To make it dairy-free, do you have any suggestions on what would be a good substitute for parmesan in the pesto? (Don’t hate me for trying to potentially ruin your recipe. I love parmesan; I’m just avoiding dairy at the moment!)


    • Jessica — May 13th, 2013 @ 11:30 am

      haha i totally understand! what if you tried nutritional yeast? i’ve never used it in pesto but have used it on veggies for years and it has a somewhat cheesy flavor.


  23. #
    Rayna — May 13, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    Holy delicious! Pistachios are by far my favorite nut (especially for snacking) and I just can’t resist a delicious pesto. This looks spectacular!


  24. #
    Marcie @ Flavor the Moments — May 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    I have to admit that I’ve never been that crazy about pistachios, but they’re growing on me. THIS pesto, however, sounds like the perfect way for me to utilize them. I love pesto and it just makes sense. There are a lot of pistachio lovers in my house, so this is a good thing!


  25. #
    Gloria @ Simply Gloria — May 13, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

    Love this simple recipe Jessica! I’m the same way with paper (and grocery list left on my seat). Have a happy Monday!


  26. #
    Faith @ Pixie Dust Kitchen — May 13, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

    I love pesto- it just kind of screams summer to me! I love this recipe!


  27. #
    Eddie — May 13, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    My giggling started at, “who the heck wants nuts in their ice cream?”


  28. #
    sasha york — May 13, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

    Aaah I’ve been thinking how awesome pistachios actually are and that I need to find recipes with them, so, dude, this=very handy!
    I just can’t get into pesto, though. Which is weird because I love all of the ingredients on their own….???
    But bring on any and all pistachio recipes you got :)


  29. #
    Holly@ EatGreatBEGreat — May 13, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    This sounds amazing! Awesome recipe!


  30. #
    April — May 13, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

    Totally right there with you on the notes section of my iPhone…and I have the same plates as you…as if I didn’t like you enough already. :)


  31. #
    Joshua Hampton (Cooking Classes San Diego) — May 13, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    I love pesto. I eat almost anything with pesto. And this looks really yummy. Can’t wait to try it.


  32. #
    Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen — May 13, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    I have loved pistachios all my life and these look fantastic. I have to disagree when it comes to cookies though, I LOVE them in cookies too.

    oh and BTW, I think I’ll blame you for my recent obsession with buffalo sauce. cannot.get.enough.ever.


  33. #
    cait @ shejustkeepsgoing — May 13, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    pesto is heaven. slather that on any food and it’ll be a winner. I never thought of the pistachio-pesto combo, but it looks amazzzzing.


  34. #
    Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner — May 13, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    Target’s pistachio gelato is off.the.hook. Now I want some.


  35. #
    Larry — May 13, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    I LOVE PISTACHIO GELATO! And ice cream. There is a burger joint in town called Gott’s Roadside and LET ME TELL YOU, their white pistachio milkshake is what dreams are made of. Well, that and Robert Downey, Jr. *swoon*
    How about RDJ covered in a white pistachio milkshake? I’ll stop.


  36. #
    Lisa — May 13, 2013 @ 3:53 pm



  37. #
    Carly — May 13, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    Growing up, my mom used to make that old-school 4-layer pistachio pudding dessert for us all the time. Man was that stuff good.


  38. #
    Lauren — May 13, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

    This looks amazing. I love pistachios too.
    This weekend I made your chicken salad with the bacon and corn and it was incredible-maybe you’ll conjure up a chicken salad recipe with pistachios for us? Something with a Mediterranean twist?


  39. #
    Courtney @ BakeMeBetter — May 13, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

    I love pistachios! Never thought about using them in anything but my mouth. They are really pretty.


  40. #
    Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch — May 13, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

    Oh how amazing!!! I love pistachios too and I’m sure this would be heaven to my taste buds!!!


  41. #
    Ruthy @ omeletta — May 13, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    pistachio loving makes me all swoony! We can join Pistachio Addicts Anonymous together. i’ll bring the gelato if you’ve got this pesto?


  42. #
    Kylie @ immaeatthat — May 13, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

    That part about water bottles in the car…that is me to a tee! And I can totally get behind seared until caramely chicken that is then covered in gorgeous pesto. Dee-licious!


  43. #
    Molly @Bakelette — May 13, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    I really hope you find or remember that cookie recipe!! This dinner looks incredible!


  44. #
    Meg — May 13, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

    I’m going through a pistachio phase myself, keep them in the freezer and sprinkle on salads, TEXTURE SENSATION!!!


  45. #
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — May 13, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    I practically live for pistachios! These look yum, Jessica :)


  46. #
    Vicki Bensinger — May 14, 2013 @ 6:29 am

    I love pistachios and always have bags of them for snacking and cooking. Like you I also use post it notes to jot down recipes or notes to myself, then lose them. Just recently I purchased a spiral notebook so I wouldn’t lose them. It’s helping v

    Anyway back to your pistachios. I love this recipe and can’t wait to try it. Your kale pesto sounds great as well. I will have to check that out, if its posted.


  47. #
    Andrea @ Barbells and Buttercream — May 14, 2013 @ 8:27 am

    This looks sooooo amazing! I keep coming back to it just to look at it again. Chicken breasts were buy one package get one free at Publix last week! I believe I know what I will be using them for.

    On a side note, all of your pictures are always gorgeous! Do you ever post any photography tips?


    • Jessica — May 14th, 2013 @ 10:05 am

      i really don’t feel qualified to give tips but i talk about it a bit in my FAQS!


  48. #
    Allison @ thebakingyear — May 14, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    This looks DELICIOUSSS! We make homemade pesto all the time, but usually with basil and pine nuts. I’m definitely going to try this pistachio variety soon!!


  49. #
    nessa — May 14, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    Yum, yum, yum! I think i have to go eat now.


  50. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — May 14, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    I LOVE pistachios, too. The worst part is shelling them, but totally worth it!!



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