Gnocchi with Pistachio Cream Sauce
Pasta with Pistachio Cream sauce was Gary’s go-to meal when we visited Sicily. His favorite pasta was gnocchi, although the cheese ravioli was a close second.
So when we did the Sicilian wine tasting for our clients, I served the dish with gnocchi as one of the food pairings. It was a huge hit, and I was asked for the recipe by practically everyone. So I decided to post it here. Unfortunately, I have no pictures from when I made it, so I can only show you the end result of three meals in Sicily. As you can see, they are all slightly different.
This happens quickly, so get everything out of the counter to easily move from step to step. Also, use a large skillet – larger than you think you need, so it does not get too crowded.
Download and Print Recipe: Gnocchi with Pistachio Cream Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
- 8 ounces (225 grams) pancetta cut into small cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, very finely diced
- 9 ounces highest quality unsalted pistachios
- 3 cups heavy cream (buy a quart size – you may want it – I did)
- 2 – 16 ounce packages of Gia Potato Gnocchi ( or I pound penne or rigatoni)
- Fresh grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, place the whole pistachios in a dry pan and toast them until fragrant. Do not allow it to burn. Once toasted, pour into a food processor and pulse to get a rough mixture of pieces and large-grained powder (not flour). Pulse maybe three or four times. It should look like the picture below.
- Heat a skillet large enough to hold the pasta on medium-high heat. Add the cubed pancetta and cook, stirring, until it has rendered its fat and is crisp about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Add the diced onion to the pan. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in about 1/2 of the crushed pistachios and stir to coat. This is a timing issue. If onions and crushed pistachios are cooked, set aside until water reaches a full boil and the gnocchi is cooking.
The following two steps you will need to do concurrently. Quickly following with the next.
- Pour in 3 cups of the heavy cream. Using a spatula, slowly stir into the onion and pistachios and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Keep stirring so it does not burn or separate.
- Drop in gnocchi once the water is at full boil. Remove each gnocchi once it floats to the surface. (Or other pasta until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time.) Reserve some of the cooking water.
As the gnocchi floats to the top, remove them from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and add them to the skillet. Once all of the gnocchi are in the sauce, stir in the reserved pancetta and toss to coat the pasta in the cream sauce. Once the pasta and pancetta are in the sauce, you may wish you had more sauce. If so, use the extra cup of cream, as I did.
- Add 2 tbsp. of grated cheese at a time to create a creamier consistency. If the sauce is too thick, add a ladle of pasta water to thin it out as necessary. I like a creamier sauce, so in addition to the extra cream, I also added more cheese to get the consistency I wanted.
- Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining chopped pistachios and extra grated cheese at the table.
I’d pair this dish with a lively Etna Bianco or a crisp Grillo. Two lovely wine varieties in Sicily.
If you do not believe that Sicily has to be on your bucket list, take a look at Travel and Leisure.