Fusilli with Walnut and Garlic Sauce

Walnut-Garlic Fusilli

This was a very quick, simple, and tasty pasta dish. I chose it mostly to compliment some walnut bread Jeremy made, but we were pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the pasta. If it weren’t for all the cream, this would be a perfect simple meal that just takes a few minutes to prepare, literally as long as the pasta takes to cook. And it goes well with a salad, too: Last night we did a spinach salad with feta and toasted walnuts, dressed with a simple strawberry vinaigrette (~3T olive oil, 1T white balsamic vinegar, 2tsp strawberry jam).

Fusilli Salsa di Noci

“Rich and fragrant, and elegant as an ‘all-white’ dish that reminds me of wintry evenings, this delicious pasta is perfect as a very hearty first course or a main course served with a light salad and fruit gelato to follow….Be sure to toast the walnuts, to bring out their flavor. And go easy on the garlic: The hint should be faint but not overpowering. The little corkscrew pasta known as fusilli is perfect for this sauce, for the tiny flecks of walnut cling to the pasta, giving you even amounts of sauce and pasta with each bite.”

2 plump fresh garlic cloves, degermed and minced
Sea salt
1 C walnut halves, toasted and cooled
1 C heavy cream
1 lb dried Italian pasta, such as fusilli
1/2 C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly grated black pepper

In a food processor, combine the garlic, a pinch of salt, and the nuts, and process just to coarsely chop the nuts. Add the cream, and process to a fairly smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. As the water heats, place the serving bowl over the water to warm the bowl. When the water is boiling, add 3 tablespoons of salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook the pasta until tender but firm to the bite.

Drain and transfer to the warmed bowl, and toss to blend thoroughly. Add the cheese and toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to warmed shallow soup bowls and serve immediately, passing the pepper mill. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Source: Trattoria, by Patricia Wells (p.110-111).

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