Brown Butter Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas

The last year really encouraged me to make use of whatever I might have lurking in my pantry before our bi-weekly trip to the grocery store. Take this pistachio pesto pasta for instance!

This particular pasta was made in a moment of me looking in the empty fridge and trying to figure out what we were possibly going to eat for dinner. Chickpeas? Check. Pasta? Check. Pistachios? Check. And how about a little nutty brown butter, too?! What a delicious dinner experiment this was going to be.

This super easy pasta is tossed together with a simple lemon-infused pistachio pesto, chickpeas for a boost of plant based protein, and a little brown butter for a nutty deep flavor that brings everything together perfectly. After one bite, I was patting myself on the back because not only is this pasta seriously delicious and addicting, but SO EASY.

pistachio pasta with chickpeas on a plate with a fork

Ingredients in pistachio pasta with chickpeas

This incredible pistachio pasta is actually super simple with just 6 core ingredients, but it tastes and FEELS oh-so-fancy. All you’ll need is:

  • Butter: you’ll brown just a bit of butter to create the perfect “sauce” combined with the pistachio pesto. So good! If you’ve never browned butter before, I’ve got a tutorial here.
  • Pasta: I love using bucatini or spaghetti, but you can use any pasta you’d like (even gluten free). This pasta is also quite lovely as a cold pasta salad, in which case, I recommend bowties or fusilli.
  • Pistachios: I recommend using shelled roasted pistachios for the ultimate flavor.
  • Garlic: essential for a delicious pesto.
  • Lemon zest: this adds such an amazing brightness to the pesto. Don’t skip it!
  • Chickpeas: I love adding chickpeas for a boost of protein but you can use cooked chicken, sausage, shrimp and more.
  • Salt & pepper: bring out all of the flavors in the pasta dish. Taste and add accordingly!
  • Red pepper flakes: the slight kick of heat from red pepper flakes takes this pistachio pesto pasta to the next level, but feel free to omit if you’d like.

brown butter in a skillet with a whisk

Make it gluten free

If you want to make this recipe gluten free, you can use gluten free pasta of choice or Banza chickpea pasta. Easy!

Jazz up your pistachio pasta

Feel free to customize this easy pasta dish with your favorite proteins and even veggies! Here’s what I’d recommend adding:

  • Choose your protein. Cooked ground sausage, grilled or cooked diced chicken breast, cooked shrimp or my famous spicy maple salmon would all be delicious!
  • Add some veggies. Try adding ¾ cup sweet corn, chopped broccoli, kale or spinach would all be a great way to add some veggies.
  • Cheese it up. Looking for another savory element? Try adding ½ cup grated parmesan cheese.

pistachio pesto pasta with chickpeas in a skillet with a wooden spoon

How to brown butter

The brown butter is essential for creating a nutty, savory, delicious flavor in this pasta with chickpeas.

  1. Heat the butter. Add your butter to a large saucepan or skillet and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you whisk constantly during this process.
  2. Whisk it well. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma.
  3. Cool it. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

pistachio pasta with chickpeas on two plates with forks

Pistachio pesto pasta in 4 easy steps

  1. Make the pistachio pesto. After you’ve browned your butter, make the pistachio pesto by adding ½ cup pistachios, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until pistachios are finely ground.
  2. Cook your pasta. Next, cook the pasta in a large pot according to the directions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, be sure to set aside ½ cup of reserved pasta water.
  3. Stir it together. You’ll then drain the pasta and return it to the pan with the brown butter. Stir in the pistachio pesto and just a little bit of the reserved pasta water into the pasta; toss well to combine.
  4. Add protein & garnish. Finally, add in chickpeas and red pepper flakes and toss again. Taste the pasta and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with extra chopped pistachios on top and fresh parsley for garnish.

brown butter pistachio pesto pasta with chickpeas on a plate with a fork

Storing & reheating tips

Store any leftover pistachio pesto pasta in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of milk or water. You can also reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk/water.

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I hope you love this recipe as much as we do. If you make it, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below! xo.

Brown Butter Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas

5 from 16 votes

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Delicious vegetarian pistachio pesto pasta with chickpeas tossed with warm brown butter for a healthy, comforting pasta dinner you’ll make again and again. This easy pistachio pesto pasta has just six simple ingredients, plant based protein, and can be made gluten free! Options to add more delicious mix-ins and protein substitutes.

  • For the brown butter:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • For the pasta:
  • 10 ounces bucatini or spaghetti (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • For the pistachio pesto:
  • ½ cup shelled roasted pistachios
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 small lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • To garnish:
  • Extra chopped pistachios
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  1. First, brown your butter: add butter to a large saucepan or skillet and place over medium heat. The butter will begin to crackle, and then eventually foam. Make sure you whisk constantly during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

  2. To make the pistachio pesto: add ½ cup pistachios, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until pistachios are finely ground.

  3. Next, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, be sure to set aside ½ cup of reserved pasta water, then drain pasta and return the pasta to the pan with the brown butter, then stir in pistachio pesto and just a little bit of the reserved pasta water into the pasta; toss well to combine.

  4. Next add in chickpeas and red pepper flakes and toss again. Taste the pasta and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with extra chopped pistachios on top and fresh parsley for garnish.

This pasta would be delicious with any the following additions:

  • ½ pound cooked ground sausage
  • Grilled or cooked diced chicken breast
  • Salmon or shrimp
  • ¾ cup sweet corn
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

This pasta is great served warm or cold. If you want to make it a cold pasta salad, I suggest using fusilli or bowtie pasta. Enjoy!

To store: Store any leftover pistachio pesto pasta in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of milk or water. You can also reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk/water.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)

Calories: 537kcal

Fat: 21.5g

Saturated fat: 7.9g

Carbohydrates: 74.3g

Fiber: 8.4g

Sugar: 2.3g

Protein: 17.2g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats