Nonna Silvi’s Authentic Italian Pumpkin Pesto Pasta Recipe

Nonna Silvi, also known as Silvana Bini, is an 82-year-old Tuscan grandmother who has taken social media by storm with her traditional Italian dishes. With 2.6 million followers on Instagram, 1.5 million on TikTok, and 120,000 subscribers on YouTube, Nonna Silvi shares classic and easy-to-make recipes with an infectious energy and warmth that captivates her audience.

One of her signature dishes is a pasta dish featuring a pesto sauce that deviates from the traditional Genovese recipe, substituting basil and garlic with pumpkin as the main ingredient. Nonna Silvi’s pesto also includes pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, onions, parsley, and pistachios. It’s an absolute delight that you won’t be able to resist replicating in your own kitchen. Let’s dive into the recipe!


  • 400g rigatoni or other short pasta
  • 500g pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • A splash of white wine (about 100ml)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt


Prepare the Pumpkin and Onion:

    • Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and chop the onion.

    Sauté the Pumpkin and Onion:

      • In a pan, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.
      • Add the chopped pumpkin and onion to the pan.
      • Season with salt and sauté for about five minutes until the pumpkin starts to brown slightly.

      Cook the Pumpkin and Onion:

        • Pour about 150 milliliters of water and the white wine into the pan with the pumpkin and onion.
        • Allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and the liquid has evaporated.

        Toast the Pine Nuts and Pistachios:

          • While the pumpkin is cooking, toast the pine nuts and pistachios in a separate pan over medium-low heat, being careful not to burn them.

          Cook the Pasta:

            • In a separate pot, bring a large amount of salted water to a boil.
            • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.

            Prepare the Pesto Sauce:

              • In a food processor, combine the cooked pumpkin and onion mixture with the chopped parsley and a pinch of salt.
              • Add slightly more than half of the toasted pine nuts and pistachios to the food processor and blend until smooth.
              • Return the blended mixture to the pan where the pumpkin was cooked.

              Combine the Pasta and Pesto:

                • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.
                • Add the drained pasta to the pan with the pumpkin pesto.
                • If the sauce seems too dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta cooking water until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency.


                  • Serve the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining toasted pine nuts and pistachios sprinkled on top.

                  Nonna Silvi’s Cooking Tips:

                  • Use a firm, sweet variety of pumpkin for the best flavor and texture.
                  • Be careful not to overcook the pumpkin; it should be tender but not mushy.
                  • Toasting the pine nuts and pistachios enhances their flavor and adds a nice crunch to the dish.
                  • Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the consistency of the sauce as needed.
                  • Feel free to adjust the quantities of ingredients to suit your taste preferences.


                  Nonna Silvi’s pumpkin pesto pasta is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Italian cuisine. With its simple yet flavorful ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your repertoire. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, Nonna Silvi’s recipes are a celebration of tradition, passion, and the joy of sharing delicious food with loved ones. Buon appetito!