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Austin360Cooks: Learn to make pistachio pesto like an Italian

Monica Pesoli has found a niche for herself promoting Italian culture in Texas.

Although she was born in the U.S. to Italian parents, she learned how to cook, speak and think like an Italian by studying Italian in college and going to Italy every summer. When Pesoli herself became a parent, she started cooking with her three kids and eventually branched out into teaching culinary and language classes to fellow Italophiles in Houston.

Pesoli earned dual citizenship to both countries and now lives in Austin, where she writes a blog called Like an Italian ( and continues to host cooking, culture and language classes in both English and Italian. She also leads travel groups to Italy, including an upcoming wine-focused trip in May 2017. Her next class is 2 p.m. Dec. 4 with the folks who run Dolce Neve. You can find tickets and info on her website.)

One of the ways that Pesoli shares her love of Italian cuisine is through her Instagram, where she posts as @monica.likeanitalian. She usually only shares the recipes with students in her classes, but you’ll find tips, ideas and facts about Italian food, wine and culture.

A few weeks ago, she posted several photos of a pistachio pesto that drew my attention. We usually associate pesto with pine nuts, but in her version, she replaces some of the pine nuts with pistachios. Both are relatively expensive nuts, but this pesto will go a long way to season a bowl of pasta or, as she suggests, a slice of tomato or toasted bread.

Pesto di Pistacchi (Pistachio Pesto)

Use organic ingredients, if you can, and seek out a high-quality olive oil, such as Montebello.

6 cloves garlic

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup pistachios

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 cup packed basil, washed and stems removed

Salt, to taste

Add garlic and oil to a food processor; pulse until well combined. Scrape down sides of processor and add both types of nuts; pulse until ground. Add cheese and basil; pulse mixture until evenly ground. You want it near pureed, but still textured; not chunky or leafy. Salt to taste.

Use as pasta topping or sauce, or as a spread on a multitude of foods, from toasted bread to crackers and tomato slabs. (Remember, bruschetta is the toast, not the topping, so try making pesto bruschetta.) Makes about two cups.

— Monica Pesoli, Like an Italian (

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