There's still a ton of pistachios in my house from the holidays and some of them found their way into this dish. It's one of my favourites and if I were given the choice between this and a slice of chocolate cake, I'd go for the pasta almost every time.
I used brine-cured picholine olives which have a wonderful saltiness to them. Their firm texture also makes them great cocktail olives. Orecchiette is perfect for this dish. The roughly textured, indented discs hold the olive sauce extremely well.
If you have a food processor, this will come together very quickly for a delicious lunch or dinner.
2 1/2 - 3 cups dry orecchiette, about 12 oz
1 1/3 cups pitted picholine or brine-cured green olives
3/4 cup shelled pistachio kernels
small handful fresh chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 or 2 pinches red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp freshly minced lemon zest
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup hot water reserved from cooking the pasta
freshly ground pepper
Cook the orecchiette according to the directions on the package in lightly salted water until they are al dente; about 9 - 12 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, place the olives, pistachios, parsley, garlic, red pepper, lemon zest and cheese into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is roughly chopped.
Scrape down the sides, then with the motor running pour up to 1/2 cup of hot water from the pasta, through the chute until the mixture resembles a sauce.
Toss the olive sauce with the drained orecchiette.
Serve. Dust with freshly ground pepper, if desired.