White Pesto Pasta
This is the direct inverse of the normal basil pesto you know and love. It’s built on a combination of toasted nuts, creamy ricotta, and salty Parmesan, with a little kick coming from raw garlic and fresh oregano. You don’t need a food processor, a mortar and pestle, or a blender—in fact, the entire sauce comes together in the same bowl you can use for serving.
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- 4 servings
- ½ cup walnuts
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh ricotta
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 2 tsp. finely chopped oregano
- 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. tube- or rod-shaped pasta (such as rigatoni or spaghetti)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
- Vigorously mix walnuts, ricotta, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, and 2 oz. Parmesan in a large bowl until well combined. Add oil 1 Tbsp. or so at a time, stirring well after each addition, until all the oil is incorporated. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta in pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Scoop 1 cup pasta cooking liquid into bowl with pesto and stir gently to combine (it’s okay if some of the pesto is still in small clumps). Using a spider, tongs, or slotted spoon, transfer pasta directly to bowl with pesto. Mix energetically until pesto thickens enough to lightly coat pasta, about 2 minutes; the pasta should have sauce clinging to it but there should also be some extra sauce that collects in bottom of bowl.
- Divide pasta among bowls and serve with more Parmesan alongside for sprinkling over.
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