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Chopped Pesto Pasta Sauce

5 from 3 community reviews

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A rustic, super-simple pasta sauce recipe: Hand-chopped pesto sauce with parsley and nuts combined with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Make it without a food processor, right on a cutting board for a quick and vibrant vegetarian dish!

Pappardelle pasta noodles with parsley pesto sauce in a serving bowl, with fresh parsley leaves and a linen napkin next to it.

This pasta dinner recipe combines your favorite pasta (I used pappardelle) with a simple homemade chopped pesto sauce.

The fresh, intensely flavorful pesto pasta sauce doesn’t require a food processor — just a knife and a cutting board! Toss this rustic sauce with wide, chewy pappardelle noodles or short pasta shapes, like rigatoni or ziti.

Sometimes it feels good — and absolutely necessary — to get back to basics in the kitchen.

Getting all your senses involved in the process of cooking — washing, chopping and tasting — involves your eyes, nose and the touch of your hands. There’s nothing more grounding after a stressful day. It’s also the cheapest form of therapy I know!

One of my favorite old books about food is Unplugged Kitchen. The description of the author’s kitchen makes me want to move right in:

Work surfaces in my kitchen are worn and well used. There’s my trusty chopping board, my grandmother’s colander, my small cast-iron stovetop grill (which I bought in Italy many years ago); my heavy stone mortar and pestle – without it I’d be lost. My kitchen isn’t shiny and new; it’s lived-in and soft-looking, with a high ceiling and tall windows. Old tiles, some chipped, line the counter; walls and cabinets are painted the color of white butter…we eat at a very old, slightly creaky, wooden table.

In my kitchen, the food processor is stored in a cabinet rather than on the countertop to save space. It’s not that it’s that hard to haul it out (and I do).

But in the time it takes to get it plugged in and ready to go, I can make parsley pesto for pappardelle noodles right on my counter.

Ingredients for making parsley pesto arranged on a board, including a bunch of parsley, green and red onions and pistachio nuts.

Ingredients to make chopped pesto

  • Parsley is an herb, but it’s becomes a fresh ingredient that I almost treat like a vegetable or salad green! I think chopped Italian parsley tastes like the essence of springtime. It has as an intense green color and almost floral taste, I throw it in salads and arrange in small piles on the dinner plate. If you don’t have any, you can use an equal amount of tender greens, like baby spinach, arugula or basil.
  • Nuts: To create a rich, creamy texture, use your choice or nut, such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts or even cashews to make this pesto.
  • Garlic and onion: These aromatics add savory depth to the pesto sauce.
  • Parmesan: Grate a hunk of fresh Parmesan mall holes of a box grater, or pulse chunks of the cheese in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs form
  • Olive oil: I recommend using an excellent everyday extra virgin olive oil to make this sauce. (Use the code FAMILYSTYLEFOOD at checkout to get 10 percent off my favorite oil!).

Chopped pesto: A visual tutorial

  • This pesto is delicious with wide pasta noodles like the pappardelle shown here, or try it with fettuccine noodles or penne pasta.

Chopped Pesto Pasta Sauce

Karen Tedesco
Unplug the food processor to make this rustic, super-simple pasta sauce recipe: hand-chopped pesto sauce with parsley and nuts combined with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Make it by hand right on a cutting board for a quick and vibrant vegetarian dish!
Print Pin
5 from 3 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • ¼ cup (35 g) pistachios or whole almonds, toasted for 10 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) chopped red onion or shallot
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with flat side of a chef's knife
  • 2 cups Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, (from about 1 large bunch)
  • cup (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • cup (35 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound (225 g) pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
  • ½ pound (225 g) green beans, stem ends trimmed and sliced in half


  • Bring a large pot of salted water (about 1/4 cup kosher salt for 5-6 quarts water) boil.
  • Put the pistachios on a cutting board and chop into crumbs with a large knife. Pile the onion, scallion, garlic and parsley on top and chop everything together until fine.
  • Transfer parsley mixture to a bowl. Stir in olive oil, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Put the pasta into the boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Toss in the green beans and cook a few more minutes. Just before draining, scoop out ¼ cup of the pasta water and stir into the pesto.
  • Toss the hot pasta and green beans with the pesto and serve. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

Inspired by a recipe in The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper.


Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 518mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3068IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest
Recipe developer Karen Tedesco of the popular website Familystyle Food in her kitchen making a kale salad.

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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  1. Made this for dinner last night and we LOVED it! My mezzaluna is small (or the block it sits in!) so I had to switch over to a board as it was overflowing! Really tasted like ‘spring’ … and was easy too. Thanks for posting.

    1. Shirley, that makes my day! So glad it was a success. My mezzaluna doesn’t have that little block, but I can see how the ingredients here would easily make a big heap.

  2. Winter can have a devastating effect on our bodies and minds – I hope spring brings you sunshine, both in the sky and in your heart!
    This dish looks like the most wonderful way of bringing sprint into our mouths! Definitely added to my “must make” list and pinned!

    1. How wonderful! Thank you and happy spring to you…

  3. I feel like I’ve been feeling a bit “meh” recently too, I attribute a lot of it to the everlasting winter season! I’m hoping with a new season, I’ll feel rejuvenated and get inspired!

    This pasta is beautiful Karen!! Your photos are stunning. I have no idea why it took me so long to discover your blog, but I’m so glad I did.

    1. This winter was so long and hard, wasn’t it? Could have been one out of Little House on the Frozen Prairie. Thanks for visiting Laura! I’m glad to have found you, too.

  4. It sounds like a case of the mean reds. Who knows why they come, but it’s always best to chase them away with whatever means you’ve got. I’m glad you’re on the mend and thanks for always sharing such lovely, accessible food.

    1. Erin – I’m happy to hear from you…thanks for the kind words. I’m well on way way to chasing the meanies out of town! All the best.

  5. This has to be one of the prettiest dinners ever. 🙂 Love all the beautiful vibrant greens of spring!

  6. I can relate to those feelings so well (anxiety is a frequent unwanted guest of mine). Glad you are turning a corner! Your pasta is so fresh and beautiful for spring, I love the quick pesto too!

    1. Laura, thank you for sharing that. We all have ups and downs. Good thing we have a new season to look forward to!

  7. I am beyond sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult time. You certainly never let on. Maybe it was the stress of the move? I suppose we will never know,but is seems you are well on the mend now. I hear you about the physicality of working with food, really touching it. I too find myself using my machines less often. This looks glorious. You certainly have not lost your touch with either the food or the camera! Complimenti, amica!

    1. I thank you, Adri. The consequences of moving had a lot to do with it, but it was also the Perfect Storm of factors coming together that made me unwell. Focusing on the things I love always helps! And eating it too 😀