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Nonna's Spaghetti with Clams & Pistachio Pesto

Spaghetti with Clams and Pistachio Pesto

I'm not sure if you've been to the seaside in Italy. If you have, you'll no doubt recall sitting outside at a little family-run trattoria, the scent of the sea, and the delicious aromas of seafood dishes bubbling away in the kitchen.

Those memories are to be treasured forever. Short of going back to a little Italian seaside town, the best way I know of to bring those memories flooding back is to cook this dish.

Inhale the aromas, take that first bite, and you're back in Italy. Listen carefully, and you might even hear nonna chatting away in lovely broken English about how this dish is a family tradition. In the background, there's the sound of the sea and the bambini laughing outside after having been chased from the kitchen by nonna and her fearsome wooden spoon. 

Ready to start the journey and treat your tastebuds? Ready to experience the passion of Italy in every bite? Here then is our nonna's recipe for spaghetti with clams and pistachio pesto, and don't tell nonna I've shared this family secret with you... or she'll be after me with that wooden spoon.

Ingredients for 2/3 people

8,8 oz/250g of spaghetti

3,5 oz/100 g pistachios (peeled and not toasted)

1,5 oz/35 g of parmigiano cheese

6/7 basil leaves

grated zest of half a lemon

1 pinch of salt (+ 2 handfuls of salt to cook pasta)

1 tsp. of black pepper

1/2 cup/100 ml olive oil

1 clove of garlic

1/2 cup of white wine

1 lb/500 g of clams

a handful of fresh parsley


  • Start by making the pistachio pesto: in a bowl, add pistachios, parmesan, fresh basil, grated zest of half a lemon, 1 pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and, gradually, the olive oil (add some of the cooking water from the pasta to make it lighter).
  • Blend everything with an immersion blender. While the pistachio In the meantime, add 2 handfuls of salt to the boiling water and pour in the spaghetti.
  • In a pan, brown a clove of garlic in some olive oil, add the clams (just leave them in a bowl with some salted water for 1 hour to clean them).
  • Add 1/2 glass of white wine, and cook it covered until all the clams are open (4/5 minutes); drain the clams and keep their sauce for later.
  • In the same pan, add the spaghetti ‘al dente’, the filtered clams’ sauce, and mantecare (stir the pasta with the sauce). 
  • Turn off the burner, add the pistachio pesto, a little bit of cooking water, the clams, and a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Mix all together, serve, and enjoy!


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