Healthy Baked Pesto Rigatoni

Baked Pesto Rigatoni in a baking dish with a wooden spoon.

I have this thing called green foodsession and it’s not going away.

Last month when Bjork was putting together the income report, I accused him of choosing all green photos for the cover image. People don’t want to see all that green on there, babe. This is starting to look like the Grass Eaters club or something. Except then he pointed out that he had no other choice because all my recipes from last month are, in fact, green. Touche.

I accept that this is my current food calling. Green, delicious, fresh, healthy foods made into tasty, saucy food? This is the hill I will die on.

How To Make Our Baked Pesto Rigatoni:

Tomatoes in a black bowl.

But let’s follow up that bold statement with some red and yellow.

My food processor is my most used kitchen appliance by ten hundred miles. I try to force myself not to use it in some recipes because sometimes I worry that the homemade sauce and textured food thing is overkill for you foodie friends. But you guys. This little machine (mine is a tiny little 2 cup off-brand machine that’s missing one of the grippers on the left back corner so it slips around on the counter every time I use it – fun) is a force to be reckoned with. Anything that can take masses of green vegetables and turn them into something that has me licking my fingers like yes yes yes moooore is a good tool.

I mean, we all like green vegetables, right? We just like them better when they’re sausay.

Another thing we like: noodles.

Pasta steaming.

I’m carb-loading for tomorrow when I’m going to need the energy to make this again. Gettin’ carby smart, yo.

So let me tell you a little bit about this healthy baked pesto rigatoni.

First, the healthy pesto is the green part involving the food processor. It’s a creamy concoction of Parmesan, pine nuts (or almonds because maybe you don’t like spending 200 dollars on nuts? I dunno), olive oil, garlic, spinach, kale, basil, and a little lemon juice that will seriously call for a mini-spatula-straight-into-mouth pesto cleanout of all the crevices of your food processor. You can judge or you can be a real person who likes flavor bomb pesto that packs a nutritional one-two punch. Up to you.

Pesto on pasta noodles.

The pesto gets tossed up with that pasta and saucified with a little water, freshified with some little heirloom tomatoes, and yummified with a little cheese. I am so annoyed at myself right now.

You bake it, you eat it, you love the leftovers even more.

Friends? I hope you enjoyed this installment of Pinch of Yum Green Foods and I hope you enjoy it even more when it’s in a big bowl on your dinner table tonight. Topped with a little extra Parmesan, because that’s what we’d do if we were eating dinner together, I’m 900% sure.

Baked Pesto Rigatoni in a white baking dish.
A picture of Healthy Pesto Baked Rigatoni

Healthy Pesto Baked Rigatoni


This Healthy Baked Pesto Rigatoni is tossed with heirloom tomatoes and a saucy spinach pesto that will knock your socks off.


For the pasta:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
  • 23 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used Asiago)
  • pesto (recipe follows)

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup basil
  • 3/4 cup almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, chop up the tomatoes – I just cut the little ones in half. Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place all the pesto ingredients in the food processor until smooth. You may have to push the spinach down periodically to get everything moving. I had to do this in two batches because my food processor is very small. You should end up with 2 heaping cups of pesto.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cooked noodles with the chopped tomatoes, pesto, and enough water to make it a little saucy. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover loosely with well-oiled aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Nutrition is for 10 servings.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pesto rigatoni, pesto recipe, whole wheat pasta recipe, healthy pasta recipe

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