Tagliolini col Pesto al Caprino

Thin Noodles with Goat Cheese Pesto

The fundamental cheeses that go into pesto are Parmesan and Sardinian pecorino. For a lighter taste impact, Genoese cooks sometimes thin the consistency by adding ricotta, as I have described on pages 190-1 in More Classic Italian Cooking. In the following recipe I have gone a little farther and substituted goat cheese for all other cheeses. It makes a more loosely knit pesto, one with notable freshness and tang. This, like all sauces derived from basic pesto (please see The Classic Italian Cook Book, pages 139-42), is a condiment that must be used raw, without undergoing any cooking, no matter how brief.


  • cups fresh basil
  • teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Salt
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons creamy goat cheese
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • Tagliolini, thin noodles made with 3 large eggs and about 2 cups flour, as described


  1. Wash the basil in cold water, then pat it as dry as possible with a kitchen towel.
  2. Put the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and chop briefly. If using a blender, add 3 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add all the oil—the remaining oil, if using a blender—and continue blending until the mixture becomes creamy.
  4. Transfer to the bowl where you’ll be serving the pasta. Add the goat cheese and a few grindings of pepper. Mash the cheese into the mixture with a fork until it is smoothly and evenly amalgamated. Taste and correct for salt.
  5. Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water and cook until it is done but firm to the bite. Just before draining the pasta add a tablespoon or two of the water in which it is cooking to the sauce in the bowl. Drain the pasta and toss it immediately with the sauce. Do not serve with grated cheese.