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Rigatoni with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto
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.
pound rigatoni or other short tubular pasta
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
01In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
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.
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.