This Pasta with Herbed Walnut Sauce hails from the hills of Liguria, a coastal region from northwestern Italy. Popular for its cuisine, I was excited to indulge in a dish that we don’t normally see on the menu of our favorite Italian restaurants.
So here’s the story. I was gifted with an armful of books and cookbooks this past Christmas. My parents, my kids, my hubby – they know what I like. I seriously have enough pages to keep me occupied for the rest of the year, and then some! Most of my books were surprises, but there were a few that I asked Santa for specifically, and the big guy delivered! I guess this means I made the Nice List! 😉
The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook from Serena Cosmo was at the top of my wish list, and happens to be the inspiration for today’s recipe. (I bet you already figured that out!)
Upon receiving this gem of a book, it became clear that a protective cover and splash guards will be in order. Because when I’m done with it – this poor book won’t know what hit it.
Written by a food obsessed Italian immigrant, and food blogger to boot, this is a resource I’m excited to keep on my cookbook stand, in my backpack, under my pillow… You get the picture! 😉
I’ve decided to begin with the walnut sauce for a couple of reasons…
- Anything that comes close to resembling a pesto gets my full and immediate attention.
- I have enough walnuts in my fridge to feed a small forest of tiny animals.
- It just sounds plain delicious.
I made a couple of slight modifications but hopefully nothing that the fine folks of Genoa won’t agree with…
I want to point out a couple of things – if you don’t have walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent replacement. Feel free to top your pasta with crumbled goat cheese, gorgonzola or grated Parmigiano (my personal favorite). And, I have finally learned, after all these years, that 1 Tbsp of salt for every 4 cups of boiling water is a good rule when making pasta.
Now, go make yourself a big bowl of Pasta with Herbed Walnut Sauce and imagine yourself sitting seaside in Liguria feasting on their best kept secret.
And don’t forget the wine!
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 3 Tbsp olive oil (or walnut oil)
- 3 Tbsp heavy cream
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
- ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
- Salt, to taste
- 1 pound pasta (any long noodle, i.e. mafaldine, spaghetti, farfalle, linguine)
- Crumbled goat, gorgonzola or grated Parmigiano, for serving
- In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add the walnuts. Cook for 2 minutes, drain, and let cool.
- Rub off skins and place on paper towel lined plate to dry.
- Place in a small plastic baggie and break them up with a rolling pin. Transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Using a food processor or blender, add the walnuts, garlic, parsley and 1 tsp Italian seasoning.
- pulse until you have a smooth paste.
- Transfer to a medium bowl, ad the olive or walnut oil, and whisk until thoroughly combined
- Add the cream, 3 Tbsp of butter, breadcrumbs, and a couple pinches of salt. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (*1 Tbsp of salt for every 4 cups of water.)
- Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. (*Pasta soft but still very firm.)
- Reserve about ¼ cup of pasta water and drain.
- Return the empty pot to the stove.
- Turn the heat to high and add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter and reserved pasta water.
- Add the pasta and walnut sauce, and cook, mixing continuously, for about 1 minute.
- Serve hot with crumbled goat cheese or Parmigiano and chopped parsley.