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Brighten up any meal with the vibrant color and zesty flavor of this homemade ricotta pesto. Toss with pasta, enjoy as a dip, or spread onto sandwiches and proteins.

Overhead shot of ricotta pesto in a bowl with lemon and basil in the background.
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Creamy Pesto with Ricotta

Pesto is one of my go-to non-tomato-based pasta sauces because it’s so easy to whip up and so flavorful!

While traditional pesto is made with a combination of fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil, there are ENDLESS ways to take it to another level.

By trying out different ingredients and flavor combinations, you never know what new and exciting concoctions you will come up with! This is also a great way to use up leftover ingredients.

That’s how my broccoli pesto, beetroot pesto, and zucchini pesto were created.

And now this ricotta pesto! I will say that the consistency is on the thick side, but you can easily adjust it to suit your needs!

If you’ve been looking for ways to shake up your pasta nights, 15-minute ricotta pesto pasta awaits you. But don’t stop there! There are so many ways to enjoy this creamy pesto sauce.

Let me show you!

Ingredients

All the ingredients laid out on a white background.
  • Fresh basil – This is the one I highly recommend for this recipe but you can experiment with other fresh herbs or greens of choice, like parsley, arugula, spinach, and carrot tops.
  • Almonds – I love using almonds in ours but again, feel free to use any of your favorites, like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or even seeds.
  • Ricotta cheese – Use whole milk ricotta cheese for the desired creaminess, richness, and flavor.
  • Parmesan – Use freshly grated parmesan rather than a canned one for best flavor.
  • Fresh lemon – both the lemon juice and the zest really brighten up this pesto.
  • Olive oil – As with any pesto or dips, use good quality extra virgin olive oil. It truly can make all the difference in the world! I recommend cold pressed, organic.
  • Garlic cloves – Start with 2 cloves and add more to taste. We personally like it really garlicky.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Before and after the ingredients are blended.
  1. Add all the ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Adjust to your liking – taste and season with salt and black pepper, add more lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, etc. If you desire a thinner consistency, add more extra virgin olive oil and blend.

Equipment

You will need a powerful food processor or blender to make this recipe.

I recently got this food processor for Christmas because I wanted to make more bliss balls as a quick afternoon snack for my kids, and it’s been great for making quick sauces and dips too.

Substitutions

Dairy-Free Pesto

Here are some options to try:

  • Soft or silken tofu. You will need to add a bit more lemon juice, garlic powder, and some salt.
  • Cashew cream – soak cashews in water overnight and add to the blender along with the rest of the ingredients. You will also need more lemon juice and salt.
  • Store-bought vegan cream cheese
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Vegan parmesan cheese

Nut-Free Pesto

  • Sunflower seeds – they have a similar texture and provide a slightly nutty flavor. You can use them raw or roasted for a more toasted flavor.
  • Pumpkin seeds or pepitas (also try this pumpkin seed hummus)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Serving Suggestions

Quinoa bowl with carrots, bell peppers, ricotta pesto, avocado, and chickpeas.

Oh there are SO many ways to enjoy this creamy ricotta pesto. The key is to adjust the consistency depending on how you want to serve it.

Keep it thick and

Thin it out slightly and:

  • Toss with some pasta (you can add more olive oil or pasta water to thin out the pesto). You can enjoy warm or cold like in this pesto orzo salad.
  • Combine with cooked lentils or grains, like quinoa or rice, and vegetables as you see pictured.
  • Serve on top of fish, chicken, tofu, or eggs
  • Use as a pizza sauce like in this pesto flatbread pizza! This protein pizza dough recipe is the easiest you will ever make.

How to serve Pesto to Babies

A two image collage of how to serve to babies by age.

If serving with pasta, opt for bigger-sized shapes, like fusili or rigatoni. Here are more tips on serving pasta to babies.

I especially love combining the pesto with grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet, all wonderful first foods for babies. It helps minimize waste (if you’ve experienced the horror of seeing tiny grains flying everywhere..you know) and boosts nutrition, flavor, and variety.

Start with small portions to make it less overwhelming for your baby. This will also help reduce food waste. You can always offer more if they seem interested.

Related – Baby Led Weaning Made Easy

How to serve for Toddlers

Toddler's plate with quinoa, carrots, chickpeas, pesto, and avocado.

It is common for toddlers to reject mixed foods, especially if they weren’t introduced to them often as a baby. In this case, don’t stop offering! They will need a lot of pressure-free exposure.

For example, serve just a tiny portion of pesto quinoa next to plain quinoa. Even if your child doesn’t eat it, just seeing it counts as exposure. And the more they become familiar, the more likely they are to accept and try in the future.

toddler pushing bowl away

Is your toddler becoming picky?

Arm yourself with these strategies that will transform your mealtimes!

Storage

Transfer leftover pesto into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The pesto will thicken up quite a bit due to ricotta so thin it out as needed or warm slightly if serving with pasta, cooked grains, etc.

To freeze, I like to store in single serving portions using this freezer tray so I can thaw just the amount I need. Simply place the tray in the freezer, pop out the molds, and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Will keep for 1-2 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does ricotta go with pesto?

Yes! Ricotta is a creamy, mild-flavored cheese that pairs well with the bold and herbaceous flavors of pesto.

What is the best ricotta?

Opt for whole milk ricotta as it has a richer flavor and creamier texture compared to skim milk ricotta. It’s also a great way to add extra fat (for optional brain development) to your child’s diet.

If you have access to a local cheese shop, freshly made ricotta cheese is a great option. It has a slightly different texture and flavor compared to store-bought ricotta, and it can add a delicious and unique taste to your dishes.

More Recipes with Ricotta

Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!

5 from 2 votes

Ricotta Pesto

Brighten up any meal with the vibrant color and zesty flavor of this homemade ricotta pesto. Toss with pasta, enjoy as a dip, or spread onto sandwiches and proteins.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (240g)
  • 1/3 cup almonds (50g)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan (35g)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Instructions 

  • Add all the ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Adjust to your liking – taste and season with salt and black pepper, add more lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, etc. If you desire a thinner consistency, add more extra virgin olive oil and blend.

Notes

  • Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Vitamin A: 649IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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