Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Creamy Basil-Almond-Ricotta Sauce

Today: Pesto pasta that's a lot lighter and just as flavorful.

Even when your fridge looks barren and the crisper's crisping nothing, the chances are you have a box of pasta lurking in your pantry. With a simmer and a few other staple ingredients, a can of tomatoes makes spaghetti special and onions transform into an outrageously good sauce. And then, there's pesto. It's a magical combination of a green thing (basil! kale! spinach!), olive oil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

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This Creamy Basil, Almond, and Ricotta Pesto is lighter than its more traditional cousin. Instead of olive oil, there's just a bit of cheese, milk, and melted butter. It's creamy and rich, but still tastes summery. Plus, it's ready presto. Presto pesto—try saying that five times fast. 

Grocery List 

(Organized by area of the market)

Serves 4

1 bunch basil 
3 tablespoons Parmesan, freshly grated (plus more for serving)
3 tablespoons fresh ricotta
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup peeled, sliced almonds
1 pound dried or fresh pasta 

We are assuming you already have salt, black pepper, butter, and 2 cloves of garlic. If not, add those to your list, too!


With 20 minutes until dinner, get a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add basil, Parmesan, milk, garlic, almonds, a pinch of salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper to a food processor and blend until well-combined. In a seperate bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the ricotta. Add the basil mixture to the ricotta and gently fold the sauce together. Now, just the pasta's left!

With 10 minutes left to go (or however long it takes your pasta to cook), add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and mix with the basil-ricotta-almond sauce while the pasta's still warm. Serve, topped with more grated Parmesan, if that's you thing (and it should be). 

Photo by Posie Harwood 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • eucalyptus
  • Bella B
    Bella B
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


eucalyptus September 4, 2015
I was not impressed with this recipe- I wanted to like it but it just did not have a lot of flavor and the texture was off putting as well.
Bella B. August 18, 2015
Delicious! I just made some pesto on the weekend.

xoxoBella | http://xoxobella.com