One rap on vegetarians — I know, because I’ve said it myself — is that some of them should really be called carbotarians. They eat meals that are technically vegetarian because there’s no meat, but the dishes don’t feature vegetables in any interesting way, either. And guess what that leaves? These are the pasta-with-butter and grilled-cheese-with-nothing people, whose diets remind me of a child’s — and a picky one’s at that.

Despite my criticism of that type of vegetarianism, every so often, I join their ranks. On those nights, because I’m too busy or the fridge is devoid of fresh produce or I just have a hankering for easy and nostalgic flavors, I want a big bowl of pasta with little more than a shower of cheese and some olive oil or butter. Perhaps a few garlic cloves and a scattering of toasted nuts. Maybe an herb or two. The emphasis, really, is on the pasta, and there’s not a vegetable of substance in sight.

In the height of summer, these are the pesto days, when I dip into the jar of sauce I make every few weeks and toss it with whatever pasta in my pantry is shaped appropriately enough to hold onto its goodness. But even then, because my own garden is producing so many vegetables, there are always some greens or peppers or squash to throw into the bowl, too. In the winter, I make pesto far less often, and when I do, I’m much more apt to make it the only other ingredient in the dish besides the pasta.

This is also when I use a much higher proportion of nuts to herbs, a trick I learned from the guys at Frankies Spuntino in New York. In their 2010 cookbook, “The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual,” the first recipe in their dried-pasta chapter is probably the one I make most often when the weather is cold. They combine orecchiette with a pesto that includes a lot of pistachios and a little mint (plus garlic and cheese), giving it a Sicilian bent.

For this winter dish, I like to cook whole-grain pasta, whose heartiness complements the pesto’s nuttiness. Most recently, I tossed the pesto with a beautiful rye-flour campanelle (ruffled trumpet-shaped pasta) that I bought from Brooklyn’s Sfoglini. As I devoured one bite after another, it occurred to me that the next time I make it, I might add some broccoli, or roasted Brussels sprouts.

Or maybe I won’t. Now and then, it’s fun to be a carbotarian.

Pasta With Pistachios

6 to 8 servings

Use a favorite pasta shape that has lots of nooks and crannies for the pesto to nestle in, such as campanelle (pictured), farfalle or rotini.
Traditional imported pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses are made with animal rennet. If desired, substitute a domestic vegetarian Parmesan, such as Sargento brand.

MAKE AHEAD: The pesto can be refrigerated for up to one week; bring it to room temperature before adding to the hot pasta.

Adapted from a recipe in “The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual,” by Frank Castronovo, Frank Falcinelli and Peter Meehan (Artisan, 2014).

Salt
1 1/2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted (see NOTE)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lightly packed, finely grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces; see headnote)
1 pound whole-grain pasta (such as rye, farro or whole-wheat; see headnote)
4 scallions, white and-light green parts, cut into thin strips (julienne, for garnish)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the pistachios by hand or in a food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with the garlic, mint, oil and cheese; mix well to form a pesto. Taste, and add salt if needed.

Add the pasta to the boiling water; cook according to the package directions (al dente). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot over low heat. Add the pesto, along with the reserved pasta cooking water; toss until the pasta is evenly coated. Transfer to bowls or a serving platter. Garnish with the scallions and serve hot.

NOTE: Toast pistachios in a large, dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool before using.

Nutrition per serving (based on 8): 480 calories, 17 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 27 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar