This morning I was strolling with my son in the historic center of Genoa near the old port area – its very heart and soul. I had a stop at one of my favorite old little shops, Fratelli Armanino, specialized in dried fuits and bought a lot of walnuts. So, on the way back home with my tiny, very very very precious bag, I decided to use walnuts for an healthy, energetic, vegetarian savory course of the Genoa culinary tradition: pasta with walnut sauce.
In Genoa, walnut sauce is typically used to season pansotti (a traditional kind of ravioli filled with spontaneous herbs), but actually it is a sauce very good with any kind of pasta.There are different recipes but all the traditional one, all, do not require milk cream. So, be careful not to be fooled by stingy restaurants and canned sauces!
Try out the recipe of walnut sauce here below and you will be surprised at the soft density you can obtain just emulsifying walnuts with lukewarm water and a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil!
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 big slice of white bread, crusts removed
- 2 cups (200 gr) of walnuts kernels
- ½ clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese
- 5 tablespoons of light extra virgin olive oil
- 10 leaves of marjoram
- Lukewarm water
- Put the bread in a bowl and cover with the milk. When it is completely wet, drain and squeeze it in your hands.
- Put the drained bread in the blender along with the walnuts, the garlic, the leaves of marjoram, the parmesan cheese and 2 pinches of salt. Blend for a couple of minutes until the walnuts are well crumbled and it turns smooth.
- Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil and lukewarm water as needed to obtain a thick creamy sauce.
- When it’s time to season the pasta (any kind of pasta: dry pasta, handmade pasta, ravioli or pansotti - of course) remember before seasoning to water down the sauce with 4-5 tablespoons of the hot water where the pasta is boiling and remember always, always, to save a cup of boiling water to add to the past just in case it remains too dry after seasoning.
Some traditional recipe suggests to remove the outer rind of the walnuts after having immersed them into boiling water for few seconds. I do not remove the rind because I like a more rustic consistency in the sauce and I believe that also the rind contributes to give a characteristic flavor to the sauce (and yes, I confess, it also makes the recipe easier and quicker).
Today I’ve seasoned with my walnut sauce a whole spelt linguine. I got a pleasant contrast white and brown between pasta and sauce and, most important, a healthy complete meal full of protein, good fats (omega -3 and omega -6) and minerals.
- In the Italian Riviera there is another very famous sauce, the Genoa basil pesto made in the mortar. If you want to try my recipe here the link for my Complete Guide to Pesto Sauce.
- If you prepare the Italian Riviera walnuts sauce – in for a penny in for a pound – don’t you prepare some Italian Riviera traditional home made pasta such as the Medieval Corzetti or chestnut troffie?
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