Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Slurp, ahhh. I just finished the last of my Linguine with Walnut Pesto leftovers. I’ll confess: I hoarded it all to myself. I made it a few nights ago when we already had more than enough to feast on for dinner. I had it for lunch the next two days. I’m sad it’s gone.

As much as I love basil pesto, I’ve never tried any other type of pesto. I’ve seen lots of recipes for arugula pesto and just a few weeks ago, at a blogger event for Whole Foods Market’s new Cooking Raleigh community (more about that later), I heard a fellow blogger rave about collard greens pesto. I’m intrigued.

This is a great pasta to throw together when you have a hankering for comfort and happen to have some walnuts and dairy in your frig. I bought a pint of heavy cream for a recipe I never made, so the first time I made this I used about a half cup of that instead of ricotta cheese as the original The Kitchn recipe suggested. The second time I used a combination of half and half and 2% milk. You could probably use any type of cream or milk, maybe even cream cheese, or omit the dairy and use pasta water for a lighter dish.

I’ve used linguine and fettuccine in this dish. I prefer the thinner linguine. Depending on your choice of dairy, it can be a heavy dish even without the extra weight of the pasta.

Now you have a good reason to splurge on a can of walnut oil. Once you open it, keep walnut oil in the refrigerator since it has a tendency to get rancid if kept at room temperature.

This Ligurian recipe is from The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti. I imagine that’s a very dangerously delicious cookbook. As if I don’t have enough pasta in my life!

linguine fettuccine walnut pesto recipe

Doesn't look like much, I know.

Linguine with Walnut Pesto

You’ll need a large pot and lid (for pasta), food processor (or blender), two small bowls and colander.

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or regular old parmesan), plus more for serving
  • 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream (or your choice of dairy)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil. Add the pasta, stir to separate the noodles and cook until al dente, according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. With the motor running, dribble in the olive oil and walnut oil and process just until combined. Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the parsley, cheese and cream. Add a few grinds of pepper and stir the mixture until it is well combined and creamy.

Ladle out about 1 cup of the pasta water into another bowl. Drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and spoon in the pesto. Add a little of the cooking water at a time and toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce, adding more water as needed. I like to reserve the pasta water I don’t use and add it to the leftovers before refrigerating them. It’ll help get the pasta back to a creamy consistency when you reheat it.

Sprinkle with cheese and black pepper when serving. Pour a glass of red wine and ahhhhhh.

Original recipe: Linguine with Walnut Pesto, The Kitchn

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4 thoughts on “Linguine with Walnut Pesto

  1. niña says:

    i just love visiting your blog for recipes. keep it up! 😛

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Thanks, Nina. You’ll never guess what I had for breakfast – pasta shells with sauteed apples and walnut pesto. Yum! 🙂

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