Linguine with Pesto Rustico

Adapted (ever so modestly) from The Glorious Pasta of Italy

What I love most about pesto is that there are endless varieties, each just a bit different from the next. This delightful version has rich texture from the coarsely chopped nuts and a wonderful, deep flavor. It’s simple to prepare, making it an easy weeknight meal. My kids loved it and asked for seconds. Domenica Marchetti’s original recipe calls for dried trenette, which is a long, thin and flat noodle. I could not find it so I went with her suggestion of using linguine in its place.

  • 3 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds, divided
  • 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, divided (see tips)
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 pound dried linguine

  • In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the slivered almonds until lightly browned. This should take no more than 3 to 4 minutes, and you will need to watch them very carefully as not to burn them. Shake the pan frequently to encourage even browning.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of the toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons pistachios, the basil leaves, garlic and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until the mixture is coarse chopped. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, then process until the mixture is well-blended but still fairly coarse. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add a generous crank of fresh pepper, then 1 tablespoon each of the cheeses. Stir until combined, adding a little more olive oil if the pesto seems too thick. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure to adhere the wrap directly to the pesto to prevent discoloration while you prepare the pasta.
  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package directions for al dente.
  • Meanwhile, place the remaining tablespoon of toasted almonds and pistachios in a small zip top bag. Use a meat mallet to crush the nuts into a coarse collection of large chunks and fine slivers. Transfer the crushed nuts to a small bowl, then add the remaining tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water from the pasta. Drain the pasta, then return it to the warm pan. Add the pesto and a splash of the cooking water, tossing to combine. Continue using a few tablespoons of cooking water at a time to loosen the sauce. When the pesto is evenly distributed, use tongs to place it into bowls for serving. Top each serving with a tablespoon of the nut-cheese mixture. Serve.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I used salted pistachios, which worked beautifully. If you use unsalted, be sure to taste for seasonings after you’ve processed the pesto and add a little kosher salt if needed.
  • 2. My only regret is not having made a larger batch of this gorgeous pesto! The original recipe calls for double what I’ve listed here and a pound of pasta – 8 servings. I trimmed it back for my family of four, but had I known we’d all love the sauce so much, I would have made the original yield for the pesto and only halved the pasta.
  • 3. My guess is that this sauce freezes well. From my past experience with pesto, I’ve found that adding a thin layer of oil to the top “seals” it and keeps the pesto from turning dark right away. Alternatively, you can add a layer of plastic wrap directly to the top, then freeze it.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

One response to “Linguine with Pesto Rustico”

  1. chris says:

    this is a very nice recipe. thanks.
    question: where do I get pecorino and parmiggiano produced with kosher salt. cause otherwise I might as well use normal salt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to receive updates in your inbox?