Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Italian pasta with a creamy walnut sauce

Pasta with Walnut Sauce is a surprisingly delicious meatless dish made with toasted walnuts, garlic, and lots of fresh creamy ricotta.

 Pasta with walnut sauce

Every once in a while a dish will stand out as being really unusual, and really memorable.  This is one of them.  I’m guessing you’ve never had a pasta quite like this.  The nuts take center stage, backed up by a creamy sauce of  ricotta, with a twinge of garlic, a hit of Parmesan, and a fresh burst of parsley.

It’s not a deal breaker, but freshly made ricotta really makes this pasta special.  And in the time it takes you to bring a half gallon of milk to a simmer, you can have a fresh batch of homemade cheese.  See directions at the bottom of this post.

This is one of those recipes where there are only a few ingredients, so there’s no reason they can’t all be top quality.  Don’t use the crumpled bag of chopped walnuts leftover from your last brownie binge.  And invest in a chunk of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  It’ll make all the difference.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • handful of fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups miniature penne (measure before cooking)
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta (freshly made if possible)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • milk, cream, or reserved pasta cooking water for thinning the sauce
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet roast for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and starting to brown. Set them aside to cool on the pan.
  3. Put the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse until both are finely minced. Add in the nuts and pulse until the nuts are well ground. There should be some variation in the size of the pieces, but you want the nuts to be well chopped. There should be a range of small walnut pieces all the way down to walnut dust (see above.) Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the nut mixture for a garnish.
  4. Cook the pasta to just al dente. Drain and return to the pan. (Reserve a little of the cooking water)
  5. Add in the ricotta and the Parmesan and toss well.
  6. Add in the walnut mixture and thin the sauce with a little milk, cream, or reserved pasta water, if necessary. Bring everything up to temperature gently, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with the reserved nuts.

 

 

 

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

15 Comments

  • Reply
    grace
    July 11, 2012 at 9:54 am

    the only nut i’ve ever associated with pasta is pine nuts, and i like that combination a lot. i’m thrilled by this revelation, sue–what a tasty idea!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    July 10, 2012 at 10:49 am

    This looks so decadent! In a good way! Interesting combination. I love pasta and nuts together.

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve never had a pasta like that, for sure. How unique! I will HAVE to try this. Walnuts and that rich, nutty pasta sound like a delicious combination.

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    July 9, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Your pasta dish looks intriguing! You are so right about starting off with good ingredients. For years I was lazy and bought the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. This past year I’ve purchased the chunks and grated them myself… wish I had done this so much sooner; a world of difference!

  • Reply
    Ellen B Cookery
    July 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    This dish not only looks good, but sounds awesome. I love using all fresh ingredients, especially in a quality dish as this!

  • Reply
    Nantucket Daffodil
    July 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply
    Nantucket Daffodil
    July 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Sue this looks heavenly…as all of your recipes do! Thanks for the compliment on the lavender. I may have to change my header! I thought about you for 2 reasons this week…1) I had fresh lava beans and figured you, if anyone would know what to do with them. (husband ended up making an amazing puree that we ate on toast points)…..and 2) We won’t be heading up to Wentworth this summer. Hope all is well. You are like my online amazing cookbook!

  • Reply
    Cathy at Wives with Knives
    July 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Wow, I love everything about this dish. I have never made ricotta cheese and this looks like a good reason to do so. I would put nuts in everything if I had my way. This has got it all, Sue. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      I’m the same way about nuts, I want to throw them in everything and I have to hold myself back. I have a nephew who is severely allergic to nuts, and so when we’re together and I can’t cook with them, all I can think about is how much better this dish or that dish would be with nuts!

  • Reply
    L o v e l y t h i n g s
    July 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    You’re right…I’ve never had anything like this, bit it looks and sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Mary
    July 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    What a wonderful recipe, Sue. This pushes all my buttons and I really have to give it a try. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      July 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks, Mary, I found the walnuts and garlic flavor to be really good. Hope you try it.

    • Reply
      Anonymous
      July 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Looks wonderful would love to try!

    Pin
    Tweet
    Share
    Yum
    +1