In the kitchen

Rigatoni with Asparagus-Pistachio Pesto

 Ingredient List

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths

3 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium shallot, chopped

1/2 cup packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound rigatoni

1/4 pound sliced bacon

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup unsalted roasted pistachios, very finely chopped

1/3 cup chopped parsley

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving



Active: 45 min

Total Time: 1 hr 15 min

Servings: 6 to 8

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and toast for about 3 minutes, until golden brown.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the asparagus with the carrots and shallot and process until finely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Stir in the basil, garlic, honey, thyme, lemon zest, cumin and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until the vegetables are soft and just starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a baking sheet and toss with olive oil.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and finely chop it.

In a very large skillet, combine the cooked vegetables with the chicken stock and butter and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 4 minutes. Add the pasta, pine nuts, pistachios and the reserved ½ cup of pasta water and cook, tossing, until the sauce is thick and the pasta is coated. Stir in the parsley and chopped bacon and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve, passing the grated cheese at the table.

MAKE AHEAD The pesto can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.

From; originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on



This dish is easily made vegetarian by deleting the small amount of bacon required, and substituting the chicken stock or broth with vegetable stock or broth.

Pine nuts (pignoli) too expensive? Some folks suggest almonds or walnuts will do the trick just as well (be sure to toast according to directions on the recipe).