Pappardelle with Creamy Ricotta Pesto – pappardelle pasta in a creamy, garlicky pesto sauce infused with ricotta. Who would have thought that pesto could get any better?
Pesto alla Genovese – Classic Basil Pesto – has been called the most seductive of all sauces for pasta. Vibrant and fragrant, it’s bursting with fresh, garlicky, summery flavor. But add a couple of spoons of creamy ricotta, and it becomes sublime. This Ricotta Pesto is so creamy and decadent.
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What is Ricotta Pesto and Pesto alla Genovese?
Pesto alla Genovese originated in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It is traditionally made from basil leaves, crushed garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino sardo, and olive oil.
Ricotta Pesto is Pesto alla Genovese, made deliciously creamy with the addition of ricotta cheese.
Mortar and pestle or food processor?
Pesto, coming from the Italian word pestare, means to pound or crush, referring to the original method of preparation. Traditionally the ingredients are crushed in a mortar and pestle. While pesto is a generic term for anything made by pounding and there are quite a lot of variations of pesto, Pesto alla Genovese remains the most popular.
Classic Basil Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. While this makes a superior pesto, it’s also more work and more time consuming. The food processor rends making pesto nearly effortless, and it still tastes amazing. I have given directions for both methods below.
If you do use the food processor method, stir in the cheese, butter, and ricotta by hand because with a slight effort, it produces a noticeably superior pesto.
I’ve adapted this recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Lasagne with Ricotta Pesto found in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It’s not a typical baked lasagna, but it’s made with 3-inch by 5-inch fresh pasta noodles called piccagge, which means napkin or dish cloth.
I’ve used pappardelle in this recipe to make it more accessible to busy cooks so you can enjoy this glorious dish in about 20 minutes.
For most luscious, creamiest Ricotta Pesto, I've used my Homemade Ricotta made with milk and cream. It's so rich and creamy and it's easy to make. Click here to read the post.
I've added an optional teaspoon of lemon juice to the original recipe because I think a little acid brightens the flavor and helps to keep the basil bright green.
If you have the time or inclination to make the homemade piccagge noodles, just roll out fresh pasta dough and cut into 3-inch by 5-inch rectangles.Print
Pappardelle with Creamy Ricotta Pesto
- Total Time: 20 minutes
Pappardelle with Creamy Ricotta Pesto – pappardelle pasta in a creamy, garlicky pesto sauce infused with ricotta.
- 1 pound pappardelle pasta (or other variety (500g))
- 1 tablespoon butter ((14g))
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves ((100g))
- 2 garlic cloves (finely minced)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil ((100g))
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts ((33g))
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- Salt (to taste)
- ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese ((56g))
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino romano cheese ((14g))
- 2 tablespoons butter (softened to room temperature (28g))
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese ((57g))
For the pasta:
- Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. The water should be as salty as sea water. I use about 2 tablespoons.
- Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid to thin the Ricotta Pesto as needed.
- Toss drained pasta with 1 tablespoon butter.
To make in the food processor:
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, minced garlic, optional lemon juice, and salt to taste. Process until creamy.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in the two cheeses, butter, and ricotta.
To make with mortar and pestle:
- Combine basil, pine nuts, minced garlic, and salt to taste (coarse is better in the mortar). Using the pestle with a rotary, grinding motion, grind the ingredients into a paste against the sides of the mortar.
- Add both cheeses and the optional lemon and using the pestle grind into the paste.
- Pour in olive oil in a thin stream and beat until incorporated with a wooden spoon.
- Stir in butter and ricotta.
Combine pasta and sauce:
- Toss the Ricotta Pesto with the hot, buttered pasta, adding reserved pasta water as necessary to make a sauce that clings to the pasta. I stir about ½ cup of the reserved water into the pesto before adding to the pasta. Salt as needed to taste.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: ricotta pesto
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Kelly, I'm running to you; with a fork ! Pleasure to pin it all over 🙂
Aw, thanks so much, Davorka!
Goodness, that looks delicious! My basil is very happy right now and I need to start cutting it back so I can make some pesto. Great shots!
Such a pleasure to grow your own basil in the summer instead of depending on the little plants in the supermarket. Thanks so much, Susan!
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces, and adding ricotta can only make it better! That pappardelle looks so inviting!
Who knew pesto could be any better?! The ricotta adds a touch of creamy richness that clings wonderfully to the pappardelle. Thanks so much, Marcie!
Home run as usual.
Thanks so much, Cookie Monster!
What a beautiful recipe, Kelly. Pappardelle is my favorite pasta, There's just something about those wide noodles that I love. And basil is such a lovely summertime ingredient and adding ricotta to the pesto is brilliant. I will be trying this! Happy summer! And super cool you give so many options for how to make it. ~Valentina 🙂
Pappardelle is my favorite as well, Valentina! And the pesto clings so perfectly to it. Thanks so much!
Simplicity at its BEST! The pasta looks really yummy.
I love simple dishes! Thanks so much, Angie!
Delicious. I mostly make my own home made pesto's but with Paremsan cheese. So making a pesto with Ricotta as well is something different I'll have to try this! I must admit I do tend to use my food processor more than my pestle and mortar too. It's more convenient isn't it? But thanks for including both methods in your recipe card. Sometimes I like the more traditional way if time allows.
Neil, I usually go the food processor route as well. Especially on nights when trying to get in and out of the kitchen as quick as possible at dinner time. Thanks so much!
David Scott Allen
I was taught by a woman in Italy how to make pesto… She was sitting on her doorstep in Vernazza (Cinque Terre) and I watched her as she ground the basil and pinenuts together in her mortar and pestle. After adding the cheese and oil, she added a “nut of butter.“ She said it makes the pesto much creamier and helps to stick to the noodles! I’ve always made it that way, and now I will try adding some ricotta cheese, too.
Wow, David, that sounds like a dream! Living in Dubai, I've got to meet and learn from cooks from so many different backgrounds. Some of my best dishes are ones they've taught me. How amazing to be in Italy and learn from the cooks there. I really do like the addition of the butter to the pesto. Thanks so much, David!
Kelly, IMHO one can never go wrong with a Marcella Hazan recipe and you've honored it well. I bet it is wonderful with homemade ricotta. I've tagged this one for a future cook.
Definitely can't go wrong with a Marcella Hazan recipe, Ron! And this might be my favorite. Although her tomato sauce is definitely a staple in my kitchen. Thanks so much!
Ricotta pesto - now that's a revelation! I love the idea. Can't wait to try it.
It's really quite wonderful! Thanks so much, Marcellina!
David @ Spiced
I've been craving pesto pasta ever since I saw this on Instagram! I'm not familiar with piccagge, but I'll have to see if any of the stores here carry it. On the flip side, this would be an easy pasta to make at home since it's just wide strips. Either way, this recipe definitely needs to appear here for dinner soon! It looks amazing, Kelly!
It would be an easy pasta to make at home. If I don't feel like pulling out the pasta machine, I just roll it by hand. I haven't seen piccagge in my supermarket. Most of the time they're out of pappardelle so when I find it, I stock up. Thanks so much, David!
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
You're right - who would have thought pesto could be any better! I think you've done it though. It looks so creamy and I love the way it clings to the noodles. I have an abundance of basil in the garden right now and now I know what I'm using it for!
Garden fresh basil is so wonderful! It makes me want pesto every night! Thanks so much, Kathy!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I want to grab a fork and dig in Kelly! This looks incredibly delicious!
I could eat it every night for dinner! Thanks so much, Mary Ann!
Haylie / Our Balanced Bowl
Kelly, your photos never fail to make my mouth water - and this luscious pasta is no exception!! It looks so velvety rich, smooth and delicious! That pesto is calling my name!!
Aw, thanks so much, Haylie! Adding the ricotta makes it so decadent!
Pesto is a staple in our house, especially in the summer....I cannot wait to add a dollop of ricotta! My husband will be in heaven! Thanks for sharing another stunner, my friend!
I love all the fresh basil that we get in the summer. We eat enough to make up for the rest of the year! Thanks so much, Annie!
The one variety pasta that I can never ever get bored of is pesto pasta. I definitely should add ricotta next time.
Pasta with pesto has always been one of my favorites. Adding ricotta gives it such a creamy richness. Thanks so much, Kankana!
John / Kitchen Riffs
This dish just screams summer! Love pasta -- could eat it every night of the year. Terrific recipe -- thanks.
I could eat it every night of the year, too, John! It's my fave. Thanks so much!
You've combined two of my food loves - pappardelle pasta and pesto - heavenly! Love that you've added creamy ricotta to the mix. Looks like the perfect summer supper to me!
The ricotta gives the pesto a lovely touch of creaminess. Thanks so much, Marissa!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
Well if this isn't next level pesto pasta, I don't know what is!!! I am loving that you infused the pesto with ricotta! SO YUM!!!! I definitely need this deliciousness in my life! ASAP!
It's pretty wonderful! It adds great flavor and makes the sauce cling so well to the pasta. Thanks so much, Chey!
pesto is one of my favorite pasta all the time.. This looks so delicious that i am craving for this now.
It's one of mine too! So delicious! Thanks so much, Priya!
Leanne @ Crumb Top Baking
I love pesto and I love ricotta! Why have I not thought to combine the two!? The extra creamy texture that the ricotta adds to the pesto, and how it just clings to the pasta, looks so delicious!
It's really quite wonderful together! Thanks so much, Leanne!
I make this every summer!! sometimes from home made pesto and sometimes from store bought.love that you also added ricotta!
It's a wonderful dish for summer! Thanks so much, Balvinder!
Jeff the Chef
I'm an absolute carbs freak, so there isn't much that sounds better to me than pasta! I've had pesto pastas before, but never with ricotta. Sounds great!
I'm with you on the carbs, Jeff! I love the addition of ricotta. It adds wonderful flavor and helps the sauce just cling to the pasta. Thanks so much!
Oh my, my mouth waters when I remember eating pesto pasta in Luguiria! So so good. I imagine this recipe comes close! I love the cheesy addition, too!
We ate our way around Italy and it was heavenly! Thanks so much, Laura!
Thao @ In Good Flavor
It so simple, but what a beautiful bowl of pasta! I have never had pesto with ricotta. It sounds wonderful! Adding it to my list of things to try!
It's so delicious! Thanks so much, Thao!
That bright green pesto is so beautiful and I can never get tired of it in my pasta. I love the addition of ricotta. Such a wonderful meal!
The addition of ricotta makes it so delicious! Thanks so much, Taruna!
Oh my goodness - I'm loving this twist on a traditional pesto!!! My basil plants are growing like mad so this will definitely be on the menu this weekend!!
That sounds wonderful! I can't get enough pesto during the summer with all the fresh basil!
Oh, boy! I adore pesto and this pasta sounds like the perfect summer meal!
It's wonderful with the ricotta added. So creamy and luscious! Thanks so much, Liz!
this looks delicious kelly. i love to make pesto in the summer. and it's so easy in the food processor. such a quick and delightful meal anytime. cheers sherry
It's my favorite summer pasta sauce! Thanks so much, Sherry!
I love pesto so much that i could eat it all day, everyday <3 Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe <3
Thanks so much, Marie!