Artichokes, ricotta, lemon, and herbs combine for a quick and elegant pesto. Toss it with pasta for an easy meal, or nix the pasta and cooking water to serve it as a dip with crackers.

What to buy: To avoid strange flavor combinations, look for canned artichoke hearts that aren’t seasoned (i.e., that are packed in water, not oil and herbs).

Store-bought ricotta cheese is fine to use, or you could make your own.

Any kind of short, tubular pasta or other small, shaped pasta will work in this dish. We especially like it with rigatoni.

Game plan: You can make the pesto in advance—just pull it out of the refrigerator and give it a quick stir right before you serve it. It will stay fresh, covered and refrigerated, for 1 week.

This recipe was featured as part of our Easy Weeknight Dinners recipe slideshow.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 2 cups pesto)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 20 mins 

Ingredients (9)

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans quartered artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup packed, finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
  • 1 packed teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni, ziti, penne rigate, conchigliette, or farfalle


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. In a blender or a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, process the artichoke hearts, ricotta, and olive oil until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender or bowl as needed (the mixture will resemble hummus). Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the basil, measured Parmesan, and zest. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  4. Return the drained pasta to the pot and place over medium heat; add the artichoke pesto and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Stir until the cheeses begin to melt and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, adding more pasta water by the tablespoonful as needed until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan on the side.

Beverage pairing: Hirsch Grüner Veltliner #1, Austria. They say artichokes are hard on wines, but Grüner always seems to do the trick. It packs its own lemon, mineral, and green herb flavors and a lot of sunny acidity to keep things lively.