PESTO PERFETTO—Black Olive Pistachio Pesto!

by valentinalucia

I’m obsessed with pesto. And not just basil pesto—it’s a classic, don’t get me wrong—but I’m the girl who spent time to dissect pesto and figure out just how many different varieties I could get from this traditional Italian spread. I’ve made pesto with basil, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and more, and when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it immediately—Black Olive Pistachio Pesto!

My obsession with black olives could rival my obsession with pesto. Maybe you could say I’m obsessed with olives and have a passion for pesto, and letting those two loves combine created only good things in my kitchen. Not only is this pesto recipe super easy and quick to make, but it literally can be used to complement ANY dish. This pesto can go atop pasta, inside a sandwich, on roasted veggies, on pizza, in couscous, in risotto, on chicken, or just by itself and eaten directly from the bowl (which may just be my favorite way to eat it!).  It’s got just the right amount of saltiness from the olives and the pistachios that it needs no added salt, and it’s the perfect balance of smoothness and texture—the olives give the pesto a defined creaminess, but the pulsed pistachios allow the spread to have some body and slight crunch. Basically it’s heaven in a food processor. ‘Nuff said.

black olive pistachio pesto on whole grain ciabatta bread (before making sandwiches!)

By the way, here’s my breakdown of what makes a pesto:

  • a flavor base (maybe an herb like basil, or a veggie like peas, or, in this recipe, black olives)
  • a nut (typically pignoli aka pine nuts, but could be walnuts, almonds, or any other nut, really)
  • a liquid—typically oil (usually olive oil—I’ve never experimented with another kind of oil, but I’ve seen recipes that use canola)
  • garlic (pesto cannot be made without garlic, in my opinion, no matter the variety)
  • added extras (such as grated cheese, salt, pepper, spices, etc.)


But even if this olive pesto will be a favorite in my household, it will not deter me from trying new ingredients in pesto and creating more combos. I’d like to be known one day as the Princess of Pesto.

Black Olive Pistachio Pesto

Adapted from Prarie Table


2 1/2 cups black olives, pitted

3/4 cup pistachios, shelled, roasted and salted

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

fresh cracked black pepper, to taste


1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are in small chunks (close to pureed, but not completely) and well incorporated.