When I want to impress my guests or just treat myself to a good meal I’ll pull a recipe from my Italian tradition. More than often, despite the aura of fancy that some Italian dishes have, they are easier to make than it may seem. Walnut cream pasta sauce is one of them. Served, it may look like the fanciest sauce ever. In reality, making it is actually pretty easy and requires only a bunch of ingredients that are also quite accessible.
There is one trick that can really make a difference in walnut cream sauce. One little step that can as well be ignored. It’s peeling the walnuts. If you are short on time, go ahead and use unpeeled walnuts. It’s not a capital sin to choose to keep the walnuts unpeeled. Just remember that the skins will make the sauce taste a little more bitter, and regardless of what blender you use, the texture will not be as smooth. Thus said, you’re absolutely free to make the sauce without the trouble of peeling the walnuts. I’ve made it like this myself, and I was still pretty happy with the result.
However, if you have an hour to waste, if you really want to take your walnut cream sauce to the next level or if it’s perfect smoothness that you’re after, then I would take into consideration peeling the walnuts. The easiest way to do so is by bringing a small pot of water to the boil and throwing in the walnuts when it boils. Cook the walnuts for a couple of minutes in boiling water, drain, rinse and dry. This procedure will make it much easier to take the walnut skin off. It can take some time; it took me one hour to prep the 60 g of walnuts featured in this recipe. In my opinion it was well worth it. So make your choice and read on for the full recipe.
Walnut cream pasta sauce recipe:
- 60 g walnuts
- 1 small shallot
- 200 ml cream (15% fat or higher)
- 20 g butter
- 1/3 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
Melt 10 g of butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Mince the shallot and add it to the butter. Sear for a few minutes on medium-high heat, until the onion softens. Add the chopped walnuts (better if peeled, but this is optional – read above. For the sauce in these photos I peeled my walnuts), the salt and pepper and the rest of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the cream. Keep this mixture on medium heat, moving it around constantly and simmer for a couple more minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the content of the pan into a tall container. Blend until smooth. This sauce can be stored for later, or used immediately. It will thicken as it cools, so if not used immediately you can thin it with a tablespoon of either cream or milk, or cooking water from the pasta. A nice great addition is some freshly grated Parmigiano as a final touch.
For this recipe I used a type of pasta called mezze maniche rigate by Voiello, one of my favourite brands in Italy. I brought it back from Italy in the summer, I haven’t yet been able to find this type in Sweden. I figured it would be perfect for such a smooth kind of sauce.
This nut sauce can to some extent be adapted to suit some of the most common food allergies. Once I made it completely lactose free, using lactose free butter and cream. It can go with gluten free pasta, too. Clearly, being the walnuts the key ingredent here, this recipe cannot be nut-free.
Want to skip the packaged pasta and make everything from scratch? You can try my fresh egg pasta recipe.