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Rigatoni with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto Recipe

Excerpted from ‘Milk Street Noodles: Secrets to the World’s Best Noodles’

rigatoni with pistachio in bowl with fork next to it

Connie Miller of CB Creatives


Servings: 4 to 6

Start to finish: 25 minutes 


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.



  • 1 pound rigatoni or other short tubular pasta
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1⅓ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup raw pistachios, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (without rind), cut into 4 or 5 pieces
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chives



In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a 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.

In a blender, combine the ricotta, the whole pistachios, oil, Parmesan, basil, chives, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and blend until creamy, about 1 minute; the pesto should have a consistency similar to yogurt.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and stir, adding more reserved pasta water as needed so the sauce coats the noodles. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the chopped pistachios.

Cook With Christopher

Two more recipes from Milk Street Noodles for AARP members to try:

Lasagna Bolognese

Our take on the Italian classic was inspired by a version we tasted at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna, Italy.

Miso-Walnut Soba with Bok Choy

Nutty, wholesome Japanese buckwheat noodles and bok choy are sauced with a puree of toasted walnuts and miso that delivers a double hit of umami.


Read About Christopher Kimball's cookbook, Milk Street Noodles.

book cover with bowl full of noodles on it; cover says milk street noodles, secrets to the world's best noodles from fettuccine alfredo to pad thai to miso ramen; christopher kimball


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