Simple, tasty, vegetarian, and good for you, this recipe for sugo di noci, walnut sauce, is a traditional one in the Tuscan province of Arezzo. It can also be made easily in under twenty minutes. What are you waiting for?
Walnuts, which grow in abundance in Tuscany, are used in all sorts of recipes from liqueurs (nocino) to toppings for crostini.
The texture and appearance of this sauce is rather like ragù (bolognese sauce) and I think that this dish started as part of cucina povera (poor cooking) where more expensive dishes would be simulated with less expensive ingredients. In this case, as in many Tuscan dishes, the sauce is also bulked out with stale bread which has been grated into breadcrumbs.
Sugo di noci (walnut sauce) is vegetarian if you are a vegetarian that eats fish. If not, then I would replace the anchovies with a large tablespoon of chopped, salted capers which would give a similar saltiness and also render the sauce vegan (for the vegetarian-vegan version don’t sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano either).
And then there are the health benefits. Walnuts are supposed to be one of the healthiest nuts on the planet. They have been credited with everything from helping to fight cancer and diabetes, to aiding with health loss and even enhancing your mood. That’s write: eat walnuts, be happy!
Unusually, you can serve this sauce with whichever pasta you feel like eating. I tend to serve it (as in the pictures) with homemade tagliatelle, which have recently been rendered easier by the arrival in my kitchen of a new machine—more about that in a later post. If you are making the vegan version, again cut the tagliatelle (they contain eggs) and use any kind of dried pasta: rigatoni would be my dried pasta of choice here.
As I said in the introduction, you can prepare this dish in under 20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop) and so is a perfect weeknight meal. All the ingredients can be found in your store cupboard although I would recommend grating your own breadcrumbs rather than using commercial ones as it gives a better texture.
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 80g (3 ounces) walnut kernels, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 60g (4 tablespoons) breadcrumbs
- 4 litres (8 1/2 pints) water, salted
- 380 g (13 ounces) tagliatelle
- olive oil for drizzling
- black pepper
- parmigiano reggiano, grated
- Heat the oil in a large pan or skillet.
- Gently fry the garlic and the anchovy fillets for about 5 minutes until the garlic begins to brown and the fillets dissolve.
- Add the walnut kernels and continue to cook for a further two minutes.
- Add the breadcrumbs, and cook for about a minute.
- Bring the water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the skillet with a little of the cooking water.
- Mix the sauce through the pasta thoroughly. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if necessary.
- Serve, topped with finely chopped parsley, black pepper, and parmigiano reggiano to taste.
What are your favourite nuts and nut dishes?
6 thoughts on “Nuts about pasta!: Sugo di Noci (recipe)”
I do love nuts, and being a veggie I am blessed that there are so many different ones to choose from, all with different tastes. Walnuts aren’t traditionally my first choice, but I think with the breadcrumbs, garlic and pasta here would be fantastic. I don’t chop very quickly, but I’ll give it a go!
A little plate of heaven right there! I got some walnuts this week and I am inspired to whip this up for dinner tomorrow night, with some roast chicken. I have a date, so perhaps I will impress him with my culinary skills! 🙂
Just tried this — Tasmanian walnuts are fab and plentiful at the moment. Made the vegetarian version with capers, and went with pecorino cheese which worked. My only issue was with the amount of oil, was a bit nervous so only used half — next time I will be brave. Delizioso!
I often add walnuts to sage and burnt butter sauce. Another favourite is lightly fried walnuts and rosemary with mixed into polenta and baked.
Excellent! I can only imagine how lovely those walnuts are. Here in Italy they are just coming off the trees (24th June is the traditional date to start picking). You might be able to get away with less oil if the walnuts are oily but otherwise you need it to make a good consistency. I think if you chopped the walnuts with a blender you’d need less oil.
Wow! What a fabulous idea for the polenta. I will definitely try that.
Grazie a te!
Wow…this is a good idea to add nuts in pasta. Adding nuts in pasta makes it a more healthy food.
I cook pasta with adding chestnuts into it. Chestnuts also give a yummy taste to pasta.
Next time I am gonna try walnuts 🙂
Walnuts are so good in this kind of dish. Thanks!