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Pasta with Basil-Pistachio Pesto

Basil pesto with pasta
Lauren Salkeld
Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

Any home cook with a basil plant knows how quickly it can grow when it’s in its summer prime. Just one week can yield plenty of leaves for tossing into a classic Caprese salad, blending into lemonade and, of course, blitzing into an aromatic pesto for pastas, sandwiches and more.  

We all know and love traditional pesto made fresh with lots of basil, garlic and pine nuts. But have you tried swapping in walnuts or, in this case, pistachios for a slightly different flavor? They not only add a unique nuttiness to the pesto, but even more green color for an especially vibrant sauce.

On busy weeknights, you can throw this super simple dish together in just 25 minutes. All you need to make it is a food processor and a pot to boil some dried boxed pasta. It's low effort, yet has a brilliant depth of flavor from the fresh herb sauce that knocks any store-bought pesto out of the park. While the bright green color makes this a kid-friendly pasta dish, simple additions such as a sprinkling of fresh lemon zest elevate it for adult palates, too. Serve with grilled chicken, salmon or steak for a complete meal.

Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it. 

Technique Tip: Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water for adding at the very end. The starch will help the noodles and sauce bind and give the dish a nice silky finish.

Swap Option: Any short pasta, such as ziti, rigatoni or fusilli, works in place of penne. You can also swap out some of the basil for baby spinach for a veggie boost.


  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 pound dried penne rigate or other pasta
Fulfilled by



In a food processor, combine the pistachios, garlic and salt and pulse to combine. Add the basil and pulse to chop it up, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the Parmesan, olive oil and lemon zest and pulse until the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, check the seasoning, add additional oil as necessary and pulse a few more times.


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta, according to the package directions, until al dente. Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water then drain but do not rinse the pasta.


Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add 3/4 cup pesto, 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and toss to combine. Add more pesto or cooking water as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.