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Feb 16, 2009 10:33 AM

Walnut sauce for pasta?

I'm always looking for non-tomato pasta sauces and would like to re-create a walnut sauce that I used to buy. Mark Bittman suggests making a sauce out of pureed walnuts/olive oil/garlic/water. Any other ideas? TIA

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  1. In that vein, sub. walnuts for pignoli for pesto.

    3 Replies
    1. re: shanagain

      I also like using pecans as the nut. Other green herbs work well to sub for the basil, too. Fresh mint is especially good if you're serving lamb.

      1. re: rockycat

        I like pecans, as well. Actually, I'm pretty easy - there's not much I don't like. But one particular favorite around here is to sub spinach for much of the basil - it "stretches" the basil & makes pesto for a BUNCH a lot less expensive.

      2. re: shanagain

        Hazelnuts in browned butter. Great over squash ravioli.

      3. I make two and I looked online but didn't see where I originally got it from. Many times I get an idea and then change things all around so these are my versions. One is more spice the other more savory

        About 10-12 oz pasta, I like spaghetti for this
        1/3 cup walnuts chopped fine
        2 tablespoons walnut oil
        3 tablespoons heavy cream
        3 tablespoons sour cream
        1/4 cup parmesan cheese
        1/8 cup fresh basil, rough chopped
        Salt and pepper to taste

        I toast the walnuts lightly in a dry skillet and then cool. Add all the ingredients to a small pot and heat, add the cheese and basil at the end. Boil the pasta and add the sauce to the pasta, I usually add a little extra vegetable oil for consistency and some extra pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste
        OPTION: Some fresh arugula is also very good thrown in. It is a drier not creamy sauce but very good.

        This is different and more flavorful:

        1 cup walnuts roasted chopped fine
        1/4 cup olive oil
        2 tablespoons of walnut oil
        1/4 cup white wine
        1/4 cup heavy cream
        1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
        1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
        Salt and pepper to taste
        Favorite pasta

        Add everything to a small pot, and cook for 5-8 minutes until slightly reduced. Add to your favorite pasta and toss. I really like spinach with this one, Fresh baby spinach I lightly sauteed with the pasta the last 30 seconds. Then I top with gruyere cheese grated. Perfect pasta.

        A drizzle of walnut oil is great over both pastas.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kchurchill5

          those look EXCELLENT. can't wait to try. thanks for sharing!

        2. I've heard of making pasta from chestnuts (delicious btw), but never walnut pasta sauce. It made me EpiCurious.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Googs

            I've done pesto too, very good. I make pesto with walnuts, almonds, pine nuts and pecans even spinach, greens, herbs, lots of variations. Pesto is just a technique, the ingredients can widely vary

            Chestnuts would be good as well

          2. I like walnut halves broken in half sauteed with smashed garlic and torn basil leaves, in as much olive oil as you like. Add one small can anchovies and break up till melted, adding hot pasta cooking water. Add cooked spaghettini and toss.

            1. Water? What on earth is he using water for? Everything else, including the remarkable recipes already posted here, makes sense. I don't use anchovies very often but I do sometimes sprinkle capers on top when serving a pasta in pesto.

              5 Replies
              1. re: todao

                love capers, I could see that. Pesto is so foregiving that you can pretty much use anything. Water never. Broth, Stock or wine to cover the liguid end. Sherry or brandy would be a nice addition to me with rich walnuts.

                A walnut pesto with greens, sherry and a good cheese would be good too. Anchovies I am not sure of ... but haven't tried it so I can't say.

                1. re: todao

                  I can't vouch for this particular recipe, but my mom puts a little (just a little!) pasta water back into the pasta when she makes broccoli and pasta (broccoli, garlic, oil, pasta, butter--yum!).

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I use pasta water all the time to slightly thin. It works wonders

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      There is a classic Ligurian walnut sauce used to top pansotti (herb-filled pasta), gnocchi, tortelloni or corzetti (round stamped pasta). It is usually made with walnuts, a little unflavored bread crumbs, garlic, salt, Parmigiano-Reggiano, minced fresh marjoram, some fresh ricotta, sometimes diluted with a little water or milk and some extra-virgin olive oil. Can be done in a mortar or food processor.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        Yep, there's even a video here that recommends using a small amount of the pasta water to put back in some of the starch lost in cooking, to get that smoothness to the sauce.