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Pasta with pesto, cheese and olives

Pasta with pesto, cheese and olives: a great vegetarian main course for Meatless Mondays.

Soon after we moved to the log house, my husband Ted and I, with help from our friends Candy and Dave, planted a large herb garden right outside the front door. Over the years, the garden grew and grew, and we expanded our basil patch from three plants to a dozen. Two or three times each summer, we harvested our basil. We would pile the stalks on the kitchen table, and patiently strip the leaves. And then I would turn those leaves into pesto, some to use right away, the rest to go into the freezer for winter.

That was then, and this is now. We live in the city, with no garden, and no easy access to the abundant and flavorful basil we used to grow ourselves. I make pesto when I can, and when I cannot, I buy good pesto from the market (my favorite, from Costco, is one of my friend Kalyn's Kitchen Picks). With pesto in your refrigerator, and pasta in the pantry, this recipes comes together in the time it takes the pasta to cook, and it's good warm, or cold the next day. 

Use your favorite twisty pasta, white or wheat, for this pasta with pesto, cheese and olives. Perfect for Meatless Mondays. #vegetarian

Pasta with pesto, cheese and olives {vegetarian}

From the pantry, you'll need: dried pasta, pine nuts, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, kalamata olives, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh black pepper.

Serves 4; can be multiplied.


1/2 lb twisty pasta (cellentani, rotini, gemelli, etc.), white or whole wheat
2/3 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Tiny pinch nutmeg
1 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 Tbsp pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts
Fresh black pepper, to taste


Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl whisk together the pesto, ricotta and olive oil. Stir in the nutmeg and parmesan cheese.

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pesto sauce, and stir well to combine. Toss in the olives, and stir again. Set aside.

In a small, dry, nonstick frying pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts become fragrant and just begin to brown. Add them to the pasta, and mix gently.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More pasta with pesto:
Pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Penne with roasted red pepper pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Pesto chicken pasta with mushrooms, from Julia's Album
Lemon pesto spaghetti squash, from Love & Lemons

Pasta with pesto, two cheese, olives, and pine nuts: all the favorite flavors of Italy in one bowl. #vegetarian

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Pesto pasta is one of my favorite toss together meals. Have never added ricotta cheese but will try that next time!

Janice, as often happens, I found some ricotta left in the refrigerator from another recipe, and it made a great "sauce" for this pasta. I love recipes that start with the pantry.

Your homemade pesto recipe is simply amazing. I've been making it regularly for several years now and whilst I try other recipes I keep coming back to this one because it's my favorite.

Oh yes, I would love to have this for dinner! I still have basil and make pesto, but that Kirkland pesto is pretty darn good; thanks for the shout-out!

Kalyn, the store-bought pesto has become my go-to ever since I gave up my herb garden. It keeps for a long time, and tastes very fresh.

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