Pistachios are a borderline addiction for me (although I’m usually not picky when it comes to nuts of any sort). In fact, whenever we stop at Costco’s, it’s pretty likely we’ll pick up a 1.5-pound bag of the shelled, roasted/salted variety.
Did you know Sicily is famous for its pistachios, as well as for ricotta cheese? In this recipe, Milk Street blends 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. We used rotini whose spirals also made an easy job of grasping that sauce.
Milk Street advises NOT to use toasted or roasted pistachios because they claim, in this case, raw pistachios are best. Their bright color and natural sweetness lend a vibrant, full-flavored pesto. Well, as I mentioned, we had the roasted salted pistachios and went ahead and used them.
Now don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You’ll need some of the starchy seasoned liquid to thin out the pesto.
¾ cup raw pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 oz. 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 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.
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.
Fresh basil, I like that this pasta recipe uses a lot of it. At the time we made the entrée, our garden was brimming with the herb, one of my all-time faves. Freshly picked, the aroma alone titillates the senses.
This recipe is Milk Street’s weeknight adaptation of the pasta fresca con carciofi e pecorino. The flavors are bright and fresh, and the prep is a breeze (chopping the basil is as arduous as it gets here). In 30 minutes or so, you have a tasty and filling entrée that’s sure to please.
As per Milk Street’s instructions, be sure to purchase jarred marinated artichoke hearts—they offer much more flavor than canned or frozen. You will need three 12-ounce jars to get the 3 cups drained artichokes called for. The hearts usually are halved or quartered; there’s no need to chop them after draining, as they will break apart during cooking.
About those artichokes, if you happen to have jars marinating in mostly oil, go ahead and use that in place of the additional EVOO listed in the ingredients. Trader Joe’s fits that bill, while Cento for example has too much vinegar in the mix.
Our box of rigatoni was only 12 ounces as opposed to the 1 pound called for, which we thought made for a better pasta-to-artichoke ratio, and still provided 4 full servings.
Don’t forget to save 2 cups of the cooking water before draining the rigatoni. You will need the starchy seasoned water to create a sauce that lightly coats and marries the artichokes and pasta.
2 oz. pecorino romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Wipe out the pot, add the oil and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring, until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. (Ours took 9 minutes.)
Add the garlic and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the pasta to the pot, along with 1½ cups of the reserved pasta water. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and little liquid remains, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the pecorino, lemon zest and juice, basil and butter, then stir until the butter is melted.
Stir in additional pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until slightly saucy. Taste and season with salt and pepper.