pasta with a walnut and mushroom sauce

May 28th, 2008 · 40 Comments

and if i wanted to sleep with you, it’d be ‘torcetti con salsa di noci e funghi’.  but being that we’re all platonic here, i thought i’d keep it to the english since i hit you so hard in my last post with my γαλακτομπο?ρεκο

i’m forever browsing blogs, looking for inspiration - and this dish caught my eye while catching up with the folks from ‘we are never full’.  it’s a site full of exuberance and passion - they take their food very seriously and it shows.  the pasta sauce, from genoa, is a recreation of yet another wonderful dish from their extensive travels through italy.

again, i’m a big fan of simplicity and so that’s where my sensibilities tend to lead me.  this was the primi course for a small dinner party, followed by a secundo of grass-fed grilled to perfection ribeye, along with a basic green salad of romaine and arugula with grape tomatoes.  so yes, perhaps simple, but a wonderful dinner.

the pasta dish suffers somewhat from the innocousness of its beige colorway.  but apart from that, it’s quite good.  having said this, let me share my initial resistance, which was that the walnut texture in the sauce, was for me a minor distraction. but it seems i was alone in this assessment.  and everyone else was raving.

but you see, the thing is (and here’s a dirty little secret), in my mind, my opinion - when it comes to food - outweighs any number of other opinions at the table.  so i’m not sure if this pasta is a do-over for me.  my gauge is this: if i were in a very good restaurant, would i flip over this?  and then i know…

torcetti con salsa di noce e funghi
adapted from
‘we are never full’
i spotted these french horn mushrooms and felt the need to own them.  they were pricey, but well, i’m worth it.  had there been porcini’s, i would’ve pounced.  morel’s - the obvious in-season choice would’ve been lovely too but my local ‘whole foods’ was scraping the bottom of the barrel…

1 1/2 cups walnuts, boiled for 25 minutes
1 cup of parmigiano reggiano
3/4 cup half and half cream
2 slices white bread soaked in half and half
1 pack of mushrooms (i used both the french horn and cremini’s)
1 lb of pasta
2 Tbl. of fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper

boil your walnuts for 25 minutes to remove some of the bitterness and soften. drain and set aside.

soak two pieces of crustless, white bread in some of the cream so it soaks it all up.

put the salted pasta water on to boil

in a pan, add your sliced mushrooms along with some olive oil or a pat of butter and sauté until firm-soft.

process the walnuts until fine, then add and blend all the rest of the ingredients together : the milk-soaked bread, the cheese and cream, along with a pinch of salt to taste.

add your pasta to the boiling water and cook till al dente.

add the sauce to the pan with the cooked mushrooms, add 1 T of fresh thyme leaves, stir and warm on low for a bit. taste to adjust

when pasta is done, add a bit of the pasta water to the sauce (up to 1/4 cup) and then add your drained pasta to the warming walnut sauce. toss.

plate your pasta and top with some fresh thyme, a bit of freshly ground pepper and some extra parmigiano.

(despite my ramblings, i would definitely not throw this pasta out of bed…)

Tags: mushrooms · pasta

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