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Rigatoni with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto

4 to 6 Servings

25 minutes

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Sicily is famous for its pistachios, as well as for ricotta cheese. In this recipe, we blend the two, along with fresh basil and chives, to create a simple pesto to toss with al dente pasta. There’s no need to grate the Parmesan—simply cut it into chunks and toss the pieces into the blender. The pesto is good on a wide variety of pasta shapes, but the hollow centers and surface ridges of rigatoni do a particularly good job of gripping the rich, creamy sauce.

4 to 6



Don’t use toasted or roasted pistachios. We’re usually fans of toasted nuts, but this is a case where raw pistachios are best. Their bright color and natural sweetness are key for a vibrant, full-flavored pesto. Also, don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the rigatoni. You’ll need some of the starchy seasoned liquid to thin out the pesto.

25 minutes


  • 1

    pound rigatoni or other short tubular pasta

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


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Tyler M.
June 19, 2022
Easy, creamy, minimal dishes
This is a fun adaption on pesto. I was low on ricotta on so mixed in full fat cottage cheese, which helped maintain the pesto's creamy texture. I would double this recipe if you're serving more than 3 adults.
Karen D.
June 15, 2022
Speedy, easy & delicious
Really enjoyed this recipe especially on a summer night. The herby creamy pesto was a total hit and the color was beautiful when plated. Next time, I would add some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat (or maybe some jalapeno to the pesto to keep the color consistent?) and would probably bring pasta and sauce back together in a pot on the stove versus in a bowl.
Lea G.
February 25, 2023
It’s Missing Italy
I’m a big Milk Street fan; this was my first disappointing recipe. It misses. I think it may be something best made with fresh Italian ricotta and parm. Maybe if there were a nearby dairy farm…
Victor M.

This recipe tasted fantastic, very fresh, and had a lovely bright presentation. Pesto was a little bit light, so had to add a bit extra ricotta and pistachios to thicken it up. In future would probably start with 1/2 cup pasta water in pesto to start. Wife said it was like something you’d get in a fancy restaurant.

Gary B.

As always, I closely follow the recipe when I make a dish for the first time, Expecting a bountiful crop of basil this year, I was searching for basil-friendly recipes when I saw this in a recent Milk Street email. I agree, it was restaurant quality dish that was easy and enjoyable to prepare. I wouldn't add salt during prep, but a bit of salt at the end was helpful. Next time I'll add just a splash of lemon as I think it will add taste without messing with a perfect recipe.

Jacqueline M.

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