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Cavatappi with Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

This unusual pesto doesn’t contain cheese—it gets all of its richness from pistachios. For a tasty variation, try substituting broccoli and red bell peppers for the cauliflower and carrots.


  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into small (1/2- to 3/4 -inch) florets (about 6 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and then cut on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
  • 7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 lb. cavatappi
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large scallions, thinly sliced

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 460
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 200
  • Fat (g): 22
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 670
  • Carbohydrates (g): 54
  • Fiber (g): 7
  • Protein (g): 13


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • Put the cauliflower and carrots on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2‚ Tbs. of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt and toss to coat. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and continue roasting until tender and golden in spots, about 10 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, pulse the cilantro, pistachios, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the remaining 5‚ Tbs. oil and purée until the sauce is very smooth. Add the lemon juice and 3/4 tsp. salt and pulse to mix.
  • Boil the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well and return the pasta to the pot. Toss the warm pasta with the roasted vegetables and pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Start the meal with an Escarole Salad with Olives and Garlic Croutons.


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Reviews (8 reviews)

  • lv2ck94 | 01/03/2020

    This is a family favorite and part of the regular rotation. I, too, cut back on the garlic and add some pasta water to thin out the pesto. I have doubled and tripled the recipe successfully. We usually top it with some toasted panko which adds a nice crunch.

  • SeeBeth | 03/16/2016

    Phenomenal! Easy, quick, nutritious and delicious. What more can you ask for? The pesto is perfect. Everyone in my diehard, Parmesan loving family thought there was cheese in the recipe. I did reduce the garlic to two cloves based on other reviewers recommendations which was a good move.

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