At Christmas, my father-in-law sent us many walnuts from his trees on Vancouver Island. We have eaten some of them – they are quite sweet even though they are North American walnuts. (I confess that I much prefer European walnuts.) But there’s no way we can get through them eating them that way.
But happily, I recently discovered Ivonne’s blog
Cream Puffs in Venice. She posted about making walnut sauce for pasta that looked like something right up our alley! As I read the post, I was more and more impressed. One of the things that made me like and trust Ivonne immediately was that she said to chop the walnuts rather than food process because food processing would make the nuts gummy. Yes!! A woman who is really thinking about her food. This is a woman we can trust. Here is her recipe for Conchiglie con Salsa di Noci (Pasta Shells with Walnut Sauce). We just had to try it!
(click on image to see larger version)
And here is what we did…. After shelling the walnuts, T chopped them and sauteed them briefly in butter and olive oil. He removed them and set them aside to be added back to the sauce just before serving. Then he added chopped garlic to the butter and sauteed that until it was just starting to turn gold. A good shot of cream (10%) was added. And some chicken stock powder (in place of salt) And then the tiniest sprinkling of flour to thicken the sauce ever so slightly. (Next time we won’t bother adding the flour.)
Just before serving, we added chopped parsley, the toasted walnuts and grated parmigiano. (It’s actually a reasonable facsimile of parmigiano that we got at our cheese store. I don’t recall the name but it is an Italian hard cheese that is nutty, sweet and salty at the same time.) After tossing the cooked pasta in the sauce, we garnished with a bit more parsley and cheese.
Naturally, we didn’t have shell shaped pasta as Ivonne recommended. (We used to buy this kind all the time! I don’t know why we stopped.) We thought about using penne but then decided on our personal favourite, spaghettini. Yes, it’s probably ALL wrong. Very unItalian. But so are we….
No doubt we continued with our transgressions by serving the pasta as a side dish with a grilled pork chop and steamed broccoli. What a great dinner.
Pasta in walnut sauce is fabulous! It’s so fabulous that we’re going to have it again tonight with fresh pasta wrapped around spinach with maybe a little ham. And because it’s Valentine’s Day, we are having dessert. I made brownies!