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brown butter pasta with chickpeas on a plate

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.

Course Dinner, Gluten Free, Lunch, Vegetarian
Cuisine Italian
Keyword brown butter pistachio bucatini
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 537 kcal
Author Monique Volz of Ambitiouskitchen.com


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Recipe Notes

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.

Nutrition Facts
Brown Butter Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas
Amount Per Serving (1 serving (based on 4))
Calories 537 Calories from Fat 194
% Daily Value*
Fat 21.5g33%
Saturated Fat 7.9g49%
Carbohydrates 74.3g25%
Fiber 8.4g35%
Sugar 2.3g3%
Protein 17.2g34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.