Dec 3, 2010

Pasta alle noci recipe

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for a Ligurian specialty, focaccia stuffed with cheese, a sinfully tasty delight. Today I want to tell you about another typical recipe from that blessed region: salsa alle noci.

Ligurians dress their pansotti (herb-stuffed ravioli) with this creamy walnut sauce. It is however also excellent daubed over spaghetti, ribbed penne, mafalde or linguine (or any other pasta type that "grabs" the condiment).

Traditionally salsa di noci was called tocco de nux and prepared with walnuts harvested during the autumn months. To make your own nutty concoction, assemble:

150 g (3/4 cups) husked walnut meats (you can blanch them to make peeling easier)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch of dried marjoram
100 g (1/2 cup) fresh ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper

Using a mortar and pestle (or thrown in a blender), reduce the walnuts, garlic, marjoram and a pinch of salt to a fine powder, diluting with a thread of olive oil. Work in the ricotta with a fork, and blend well.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of the obtained sauce to dress your pasta. Always remember to save a small amount of starchy pasta cooking water for a creamier effect.

The completed dish can be dusted with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a spin of the pepper mill, and garnished with a fistful of coarsley ground walnut meats. Serve lava-like hot in contrast with the chilled bottle of stand-by white wine...

Note: For those who have trouble with garlic, in this dish, it can be substituted with less pungent chives.


  1. Well as we have our own walnuts maybe we should try this recipe.

  2. Mouth watering. A problem with garlic...oh how could one get through life without garlic?

  3. Oh how lovely! I have a bag of walnuts in my freezer waiting to be put to good use. I LOVE this idea!! So homey and scrumptious. :-)

  4. Why is it that invariably, and I am speaking transparently, each time I come here, I am smitten with a strong, strong desire to partake of the dishes you are presenting to your adoring public.

    This is not my imagination, my stomach is rumbling again already, after just a glimpse of this glorious dish of salsa alle noci... it sounds so GOOD !

    Maybe because growing up near Philadelphia, and working in South Philadelphia, by the Italian quarter for a few years, even having an Italian girlfriend for a while from there, whose mother made things equally as tempting as what you often portray, I have a soft spot still for good Italian food... the French are good, but I wonder some times if Italy is perhaps even better...
    Well, we can allow both to have some very fine points perhaps...

  5. Linda~
    Oh, definietly... imagine the flavor of REAL homegrown walnuts?! Mamma mia!!


    A number of my readers dislike garlic. Understandable. I, on the contrary, personally find everything about it sexy!


    Rambling Tart~
    Please let me know how the dish turns out, OK? I love kitche feedback...


    Your comments are always so wonderful, Owen. This is why I blog: to hear folks say, "this brings me back to places." ...or, "this reminds me of an old love." Or "I can actually taste it." I'm so happy you'd like to be sitting around our table of friends, eating my stories laced with ingredients. I dream of hosting dinners where we all meet, chat, exchange ideas, laugh and interact face to face. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

    Happy dreaming!

  6. Hi Lola, I love this walnut sauce recipe. I've made walnut sauce before with cream, but the ricotta would be much better.
    I reckon you'd get away with spreading this on crusty bread too, what do you think? I don't eat pasta, but walnuts? yum, yum!

    re face-to-face dinners, count me in!!

  7. It would be wonderful ! Do give a shout if you are ever coming through Paris, and I'll do likewise if coming to Italy...

    Have already met up with several bloggers in Paris, and invariably, it has been a really fine time...

    A very happy Sunday full of excellent pasta and anti pasta and maybe some spumante !

  8. NAOMI~
    if you're reading this, know that my reply to your delightful message is bouncing back with a mailer delivery failure, please email me your correct email address! Grazie

  9. I have just washed the last dish after making and savoring this recipe! Thank you for such a simple but delicious idea. I didn't have marjoram so I used some oregano, but that seemed ok. Also used olive oil that was pressed just last weekend...I have enough of the "sauce" left for one serving and my husband promises not to eat it so I can have it instead. I love your blog - the photos are almost as satisfying as the dishes themselves. Thank you.

  10. Mimi~
    I'm not a lover of heavy cream, hence the ricotta substitution. I smear all my sauces on bread!


    Definitely spumante, thank you!!
    I have good friends in Paris and I havent'0 been to visit in a long while... don't tempt me!


    Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I love it when readers tweak recipes to reflect their surroundings, or make do with what's in the pantry! I'm happy you enjoy the blog.

    Have a wonderful week

  11. such a simply elegant recipe. A bit like an Italian versian of the Middle Eastern walnut dip- muhammarra

  12. Sarah~
    Ciao and welcome back! I've never heard of Muhammarra, must research... ;)

  13. hey, great to see you today...sorry no happy ending this a rough spot right now, trying to refind 'happy'...but i will get there...

  14. Brian~
    Oh I'm so sorry to hear that! I hope you find all the happy you deserve, which is A LOT. Hugs and friendship

  15. Love you blog, happy to have come across it on BC. This recipe looks & sounds delicious,,,I so love the way Italians make a few simple, fresh ingredients sing!

  16. Pansotte and salsa di noce is the quintessential company pasta in Liguria - such a treat! We apprenticed to our pasta fresca guy and the Captain learned to make the pansotte - the real ones must be hand formed. You can't believe how FAST the women (usually women) are in the shops as they form them up. Really fun to see... Thanks for a great recipe.

  17. Mairi@~
    I'm happy you enjoy the blog! Italian cuisine is indeed ingredient-driven. With such abundance, it's hard to go wrong in the kitchen!


    Thank *you* for your lovely comment. I've never seen pansotti being made live, but was astounded at the speed Emilian women manage to craft cappelletti (tortellini)!