We are experimenting with nuts in our cooking this month, and last weekend proved to be a mostly successful experiment. Jennie and I felt fairly confident that we understood how nuts were used in baking and sweet treats, so we tried a savory nut dish instead. This pasta with walnut sauce sounded perfect and we set to work.
The recipe was incredibly simple. Thank goodness, because we were cooking it alongside about four other recipes in our usual Saturday fashion. Basically, you toast your walnuts in a skillet until they brown, then blend them with some milk-soaked bread, olive oil, parsley and parmesan cheese. Mix that with your pasta, adjusting the liquid levels of your sauce as needed, and you’ve got a delicious, protein-filled, heart-healthy pasta in about 15 minutes.
Well, sort of. That’s not quite the whole story.
To be honest, we tasted our walnut sauce and were a bit underwhelmed. It was quite nutty, but that was the only note it seemed to hit for us. Adjusting the salt and olive oil levels helped, but it was when we added a couple dashes of lemon juice that the flavors finally came to life.
With that extra citrus flavor, this pasta became a hearty, soul-warming comfort food. Perhaps it was the rush we were in to prepare several other dishes for a party, but we ended up eating most of this with our hands between photos, as it was too delicious to look at without tasting.
As leftovers, this has paired nicely with sun-dried tomatoes and feta or goat cheese which isn’t surprising. I think the lesson here is that nuts and nut butters add a rich and versatile base for other flavors, and we will probably experiment with more complex recipes in the future. I’d like to try a nut bechamel sauce, or maybe something with wine, cream, and more lemon.
What nut recipes have surprised you? What would you like to try?