Tortellini with Pistachio Cream Sauce, Pancetta, and Peas

PistachioCream

Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
Makes 4 servings.

The village of Bronte, Sicily is home to the most prized pistachios in the world.  In Bronte, they have figured out how to put pistachios in just about everything sweet and savory.  It’s a good thing too because this girl happens to be a pistachio-crazed nut lover.  Give me anything pistachio!  This rich pistachio cream sauce is no exception.  You can serve this sauce over any type of pasta but it is the ultimate combination when paired with veal or other meat-filled tortellini.  My friend Kathy loves this dish so much she swears, “it’s the best thing I ever put in my mouth.” 

Don’t like peas or pancetta, no problem, you can leave them out of the sauce.

Tortellini with Pistachio Cream Sauce, Pancetta, and Peas

Ingredients:
1/3 cup raw shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, torn
5 to 6 whole peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced pancetta (optional)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ – 2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
Few gratings fresh nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
20-ounces meat-filled tortellini or tortelloni

Directions:

Step 1.  Make the Pistachio Mixture:  Using a food processor, process the nuts until paste-like, about 2 minutes. 

Add olive oil, basil, and peppercorns, and process 1 to 2 minutes longer.  Set aside.

Step 2.  Make the Cream Sauce:  Using a deep skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam.  Add the pancetta and cook for 1 minute. 

Add 1 ½ cups cream, the pistachio mixture, and nutmeg.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the cheese.  Thin sauce with additional cream if necessary.  Season with salt as desired.  Toss in the tortellini and coat with the cream sauce. 
 
Make Ahead Tip:  The pistachio mixture can be made up to a week ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen for several weeks.  If frozen, defrost at room temperature until thawed before using.

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