Make Ahead

Pasta with Walnut Pesto

May  5, 2014
0 Ratings
Photo by Michael Shay/Polara Studio
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe is part of my iPhone/iPad app Cook with Grazia, 20-minute traditional Italian recipes. It originates from the Liguria region. This earthy, rich, decadent sauce quickly transforms simple pasta into a distinctive dish. On special occasions, in Liguria the walnut pesto is served with Pansoti, a filled pasta similar to ravioli. The filling of this fresh pasta is traditionally made with local wild herbs previously boiled (preboggion), mixed with a local fresh cheese, the cagliata or prescinsĂȘua. These hard to find, local ingredients nowadays are often substituted by spinach and/or chard and ricotta cheese. Pansoti with walnut pesto is a typical lent dish. For more Italian traditional recipes check my blog —grazia

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound Pasta, any short kind, like Farfalle
  • 1 scant cups Walnuts, raw, about 3 oz.
  • 1 small Clove of Garlic, peeled
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, in chunks
  • 1 slice Bread, sandwich white
  • 1/2 cup Milk (any fat percentage)
  • 4 tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 sprig Marjoram, leaves only, optional
  • 4-6 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated, to pass at the table
  • to taste Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but still al dente, or firm to the bite. Meanwhile...
  2. Place the walnuts, chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and garlic in a food processor and grind until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Soak the slice of bread in the milk
  4. Add the bread and the milk to the food processor, together with the remaining ingredients (but not the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano).
  5. Blend until it forms a smooth sauce, scraping the sides occasionally with a spatula (silicone works best).
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and toss immediately with the sauce. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the dish seems too dry. Serve hot, with a touch of freshly grated black pepper if desired, passing some finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Buon Appetito!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • grazia
  • Silvia

2 Reviews

grazia May 19, 2014
Good question Silvia, I am not totally sure. This is a traditional recipe, and I have checked many family recipes and pretty much all of them have the bread - soaked in milk. I think the main reason (but it's just my thought...) is that nuts are very rich and have a lot of flavors - bread and milk compensate by providing a milder, delicate flavor. This is also the reason why I added a touch of ricotta (not all recipes have ricotta in it). Thank you ciao! Grazia
Silvia May 15, 2014
I am curious, why do you need to add the bread?