Friday, February 12, 2010

Walnut Sauce for Pasta, Chicken, Grilled Vegetables, and...

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

Serves 4 as a main course*

Recipe adapted from A Thousand Days in Venice : An Unexpected Romance

by Marlena de Blasi Copyright 2002 by Marlena de Blasi.
The Pasta

Cook a pound of fresh tagliatelle, fettucine, or other "ribbon" pasta in abundant, sea-salted boiling water to the al dente stage, drain, and toss with 1½ cups of the following sauce. If fresh pasta is not available, substitute dried artisinal pasta.

For the Sauce (Makes about 2 cups)

8 ounces shelled walnuts, lightly roasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Several gratings of nutmeg
Sea salt and just-cracked pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup late-harvest white wine such as Vin Santo or Moscato

* My own NOTES:

I added a bit of finely grated orange zest, and used a light hand with the salt so the slight sweetness of the wine would come through. This sauce is very thick, I like to make it a bit thinner by stirring in a spoonful or two of the hot pasta water. A sweet late harvest wine can be subsituted for the Vin Santo or Moscato

** This is a very rich sauce, I prefer to serve this in small portions, perhaps as an appetizer or along side plainly grilled chicken, fish or chops.


Pulse the walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, until they are the texture of very coarse meal (not too finely - a bit of texture is better). Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and pulse two or three more times to combine.

In a small bowl mix the olive oil, cream and wine together. With the machine running, pour the mixture through the feed tube and process only until it is mixed. (Will be like thick paste.) Taste and correct the sauce for salt and spices.

Marlena notes: " As divine as this sauce is, tossed with just-cooked pasta, it presents other delicious opportunities: Keep some in the refrigerator and place a spoonful over just-roasted chicken or pork; spread it on grilled bread and pass it along with cold white wine for an appetizer; enrich simple vegetable soups with a dollop, or try it as a condiment for steamed asparagus."
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