The last year really encouraged me to make use of whatever I might have lurking in my pantry before our bi-weekly trip to the grocery store. Take this pistachio pesto pasta for instance!
This particular pasta was made in a moment of me looking in the empty fridge and trying to figure out what we were possibly going to eat for dinner. Chickpeas? Check. Pasta? Check. Pistachios? Check.
And how about a little nutty brown butter, too?! What a delicious dinner experiment this was going to be.
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This super easy pasta is tossed together with a simple lemon-infused pistachio pesto, chickpeas for a boost of plant based protein, and a little brown butter for a nutty deep flavor that brings everything together perfectly. After one bite, I was patting myself on the back because not only is this pasta seriously delicious and addicting, but SO EASY.
Ingredients in pistachio pasta with chickpeas
This incredible pistachio pasta is actually super simple with just 6 core ingredients, but it tastes and FEELS oh-so-fancy. All you’ll need is:
- Butter: you’ll brown just a bit of butter to create the perfect “sauce” combined with the pistachio pesto. So good! If you’ve never browned butter before, I’ve got a tutorial here.
- Pasta: I love using bucatini or spaghetti, but you can use any pasta you’d like (even gluten free). This pasta is also quite lovely as a cold pasta salad, in which case, I recommend bowties or fusilli.
- Pistachios: I recommend using shelled roasted pistachios for the ultimate flavor.
- Garlic: essential for a delicious pesto.
- Lemon zest: this adds such an amazing brightness to the pesto. Don’t skip it!
- Chickpeas: I love adding chickpeas for a boost of protein but you can use cooked chicken, sausage, shrimp and more.
- Salt & pepper: bring out all of the flavors in the pasta dish. Taste and add accordingly!
- Red pepper flakes: the slight kick of heat from red pepper flakes takes this pistachio pesto pasta to the next level, but feel free to omit if you’d like.
Make it gluten free
If you want to make this recipe gluten free, you can use gluten free pasta of choice or Banza chickpea pasta. Easy!
Jazz up your pistachio pasta
Feel free to customize this easy pasta dish with your favorite proteins and even veggies! Here’s what I’d recommend adding:
- Choose your protein. Cooked ground sausage, grilled or cooked diced chicken breast, cooked shrimp or my famous spicy maple salmon would all be delicious!
- Add some veggies. Try adding ¾ cup sweet corn, chopped broccoli, kale or spinach would all be a great way to add some veggies.
- Cheese it up. Looking for another savory element? Try adding ½ cup grated parmesan cheese.
How to brown butter
The brown butter is essential for creating a nutty, savory, delicious flavor in this pasta with chickpeas.
- Heat the butter. Add your butter to a large saucepan or skillet and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you whisk constantly during this process.
- Whisk it well. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma.
- Cool it. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.
Pistachio pesto pasta in 4 easy steps
- Make the pistachio pesto. After you’ve browned your butter, make the pistachio pesto by adding ½ cup pistachios, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until pistachios are finely ground.
- Cook your pasta. Next, cook the pasta in a large pot according to the directions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, be sure to set aside ½ cup of reserved pasta water.
- Stir it together. You’ll then drain the pasta and return it to the pan with the brown butter. Stir in the pistachio pesto and just a little bit of the reserved pasta water into the pasta; toss well to combine.
- Add protein & garnish. Finally, add in chickpeas and red pepper flakes and toss again. Taste the pasta and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with extra chopped pistachios on top and fresh parsley for garnish.
Storing & reheating tips
Store any leftover pistachio pesto pasta in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of milk or water. You can also reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk/water.
More pasta recipes you’ll like
- One Pot Cheesy Mushroom Spinach Beef Pasta
- Incredible Caramelized Onion Spinach Chicken Pasta Bake
- 30 minute Healthier Pasta Carbonara
- Date Night In Cilantro Pistachio Pesto Shrimp Pasta
- Zucchini Mac and Cheese
Get all of our delicious pasta recipes here!
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I hope you love this recipe as much as we do. If you make it, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below! xo.
Brown Butter Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas
Delicious vegetarian pistachio pesto pasta with chickpeas tossed with warm brown butter for a healthy, comforting pasta dinner you'll make again and again. This easy pistachio pesto pasta has just six simple ingredients, plant based protein, and can be made gluten free! Options to add more delicious mix-ins and protein substitutes.
- For the brown butter:
- ¼ cup butter
- For the pasta:
- 10 ounces bucatini or spaghetti (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- For the pistachio pesto:
- ½ cup shelled roasted pistachios
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 small lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Lots of freshly ground pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- To garnish:
- Extra chopped pistachios
- Fresh chopped parsley
First, brown your butter: add butter to a large saucepan or skillet and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you whisk constantly during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.
To make the pistachio pesto: add ½ cup pistachios, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until pistachios are finely ground.
Next, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, be sure to set aside ½ cup of reserved pasta water, then drain pasta and return the pasta to the pan with the brown butter, then stir in pistachio pesto and just a little bit of the reserved pasta water into the pasta; toss well to combine.
Next add in chickpeas and red pepper flakes and toss again. Taste the pasta and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with extra chopped pistachios on top and fresh parsley for garnish.
This pasta would be delicious with any the following additions:
- ½ pound cooked ground sausage
- Grilled or cooked diced chicken breast
- Salmon or shrimp
- ¾ cup sweet corn
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
This pasta is great served warm or cold. If you want to make it a cold pasta salad, I suggest using fusilli or bowtie pasta. Enjoy!
To store: Store any leftover pistachio pesto pasta in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of milk or water. You can also reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk/water.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This is delicious! I didn’t have pistachios handy so used pine nuts and also vegan butter. Yum!!
Perfect! Love that!
Just made this for dinner-SO good. Will most definitely make again😊
So happy to hear that!
Made this tonight with homemade semolina bucatini with the addition of corn. The meal was a little bland so I topped it with a big splash of EVOO, some flaky salt, and extra pepper. That did the trick- delicious!
Love the addition of corn! Always feel free to taste and adjust the salt and pepper 🙂
Super easy and quick recipe. Just made this for dinner and all of the ingredients are ones that I always have on hand (maybe not the pistachios always, but some sort of nut). I was a little worried about the ‘pesto’ before I mixed it into the pasta because it was more of a crumble, but I guess when it mixed with the brown butter, it turned more pesto-y. Delicious!
Absolutely! Such a great, easy weeknight dinner 🙂
Fresh, easy and delicious!
A new flavor from my regular pasta my family is probably tired of eating. 🤪
Perfect way to change it up! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
This was a delicious and really easy simple recipe! I added basil into my pistachio pesto since I had some in hand. Next time I make this, I want to make it with shrimp or salmon as I think they would both pair very well with this dish.
Perfect! Shrimp or salmon would be delicious in this, too 🙂
This was SO easy/quick and so delicious! Didn’t have chickpeas so skipped them and it was still fantastic. Adding into my family’s regular recipe rotation for sure. Thank you!
Perfect! Such a great dinner 🙂
My family loves this recipe and satisfies everyone in the family. I have made 2 times and made lots of extra the second time since there was no leftovers the first time and everyone was talking about it. Thanks Ambitious Kitchen for coming up with a great idea to make our lives richer with a delicious quick home cooked meal idea.
So happy to hear that! One of my favs, too 🙂
So happy you enjoyed!
Brown butter and pistachio magic. Monique, you have a special talent and I’m glad you pursued your passion for cooking – all of us reap the benefits 🙂 . All of your recipes are just delicious. The brown butter tutorial was so so helpful (that you posted on a separate post).. Love the addiiton of chickpeas and I used shelled Trader Joe’s Roasted Pistachios. Thank you for another great vegetarian recipe!!
Thank you, Shikha! I’m so glad you’re loving the recipes here 🙂
This is DELICIOUS! I think I’ve made it 4 or 5 times now. It’s so simple, light, and flavorful. I’m obsessed.
Aren’t the flavors amazing? Glad you love it!
LOVED this! The only thing I would have changed is added a little more pasta water or cream/dairy-free milk to make it a little more moist, but other than that it was so amazing and perfect for a vegeterian option. It was such a unique sauce, combining brown butter & pistachio- GENIUS combination flavor.
So glad you enjoyed! And feel free to add a bit more liquid next time, too 🙂
I really enjoyed this recipe, so innovative. I took the suggestion and substituted ground chicken sausage for the chickpeas. 10/10 would recommend!
Love it! Glad you enjoyed!
Wow. I think I love you, I’ve never in my life left a review for a recipe, I love this recipe. It’s everything, nutty, buttery, spicy (if you add enough red pep, dealer’s choice) and with the addition of basil, herby too.
It’s everything I ever wanted in a pasta. And it fits within my health goals? Are you kidding me? Heaven on a plate, y’all. No kidding.
Amazing!! So happy you loved this one 🙂 perfect dinner!
DELICIOUS! One of my favourite pasta recipes yet.
I’m so glad!
Made this recipe for dinner tonight and it is simply decadent yet deceptively simple! Added some roasted cauliflower for some veggies.
Absolutely! Great for customizing with veggies 🙂
This is one of our favorite pasta recipes! It is very easy to make and it tastes amazing.
So happy to hear that!
This was great! I wouldn’t have thought to use pistachios this way and I can’t wait to make again. I’d definitely recommend toasting the nuts and chickpeas before using–it added great flavor and didn’t take too much time.
Love that idea! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
I have made this recipe countless times- the pistachio pesto is AMAZING and kid-friendly (especially if you omit the red pepper flakes). Thank you!!
Absolutely! So glad it’s a hit!
Made this last night and it was beyond all expectations! So easy to pull together yet tasted luxurious and decadent. Only small modification was that I lightly sauteed the chickpeas in olive oil with some lemon zest, salt, and the red pepper flakes before mixing with the pasta. Used bowties because that’s what I had and it worked perfectly. Topped with parm and parsley. Can’t wait for the leftovers; will definitely make again. Thanks Monique!
Love it! So glad you enjoyed!
Could this be made with EVOO instead of butter?
Hi, Deb! Definitely! It’ll have a different flavor, but I bet it would still be delish 🙂
This is so good! I love the nutty mixed with the lemon. It was easy and pretty quick to make. Delicious!
Hi, Miriam! Isn’t the flavor combo so great?! Glad to hear you enjoyed it 🙂
Tried this today and it came out very well. Will try Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi next time.
So glad to hear you enjoyed it!!
Just made this for the first time for dinner tonight – O. M. G. it was amazing! I used penne chickpea noodles because that’s what we had on hand. When I make it again (which I definitely will!) I would probably use a spaghetti or linguine as described in the recipe, and increase the amount of pistachio pesto because it was so delicious, I found myself wanting more! We really loved this recipe!
I’m so happy you loved it, Sarah!! Great idea to use noodles and make more pesto–isn’t it amazing?! 🙂
I’m making this tonight. the pesto doesn’t have any olive oil. Is this correct? It’s a dry pesta?
That’s correct! When you add the pesto to the pasta, you also add the brown butter and some pasta water, so it forms a nice little sauce 🙂
I just made this tonight and holy moly was it ever delish! It was super easy to make and extremely satisfying. There’s not much leftover for my husband to try! My 18 month old also devoured it (the pasta…still not a chickpea fan). I will be making again and adding some veggies in, and maybe also trying with a different protein!
Yay! I’m so happy you guys loved it! Great call on the veggie + protein additions 🙂
This is just amazing. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing!
Wow! I was skeptical about the simplicity of the pistachio pesto, but it was incredible. Will definitely be making this recipe again and again.
Right?! Such a magical combo of flavors 🙂 Happy you loved it, Amy!
Wow! I love this so much. I am a pesto fan. I love traditional pesto, pea pesto, and now pistachio pesto! I did not have fresh lemons to zest on hand. Once the butter was browned, still on heat, I gave a nice squirt of Real Lemon, gave it a quick stir while bubbling, then turned of the heat and mixed the pasta, pistachio mixture, and reserved pasta water. This worked for me as I was able to capture that bright citrus flavor with out over powering or watering down my sauce. 10/10. Thank you Monique!!!
So glad you tried and loved it, Melanie!!
So easy and superrrrrr delish!!!!!!
Awesome! Happy to hear you loved it!
Had some leftover pesto and used it to make this. So great and easy!
Great call! So happy you enjoyed it 🙂
Oh my gosh!!! I just discovered your blog, and I’m SO GLAD that I did!!! I made this pasta tonight, and my kids inhaled it! (I did also!). It’s such a breath of fresh air making interesting food combinations, who would have thought of this?! But it works out perfectly! I made your Thai chicken wraps yesterday, your blueberry oat bars a few days ago, and I’m going to make your sloppy joes tomorrow. Your recipes are taking over my kitchen, and my family is thankful!!! (So am I). Thank you!!
Aren’t the flavors so good together?! Happy you loved it + all the others. So excited for you to try more this week 🙂