We love this easy Linguine with Creamy Walnut Sauce, based on a dish we ate near Genoa. Just throw the mascarpone and other sauce ingredients in the food processor or blender and give them a whirl!
Once upon a time, my family and I ate the most heavenly linguine with creamy walnut sauce while on the Italian Riviera, in the region of Liguria. It was the same trip where we first tried pesto. I featured Mom’s Pesto with Pecorino Romano here on the blog, but the creamy noce sauce remained on my bucket list.
I don’t know many meals that can evoke joy by mere mention nearly 35 years later. When I announced at Sunday dinner over my parents’ that I was working on a walnut sauce recipe similar to the one we had in Italy, suddenly, everyone stopped eating and looked up.
“I loved that walnut sauce!” Mom exclaimed.
“I loved that walnut sauce!” Dad echoed.
“I know exactly which dish you’re talking about,” my brother confirmed. “It was so good.”
And so it was with great anticipation and excitement that I tested and tweaked this recipe. I happened to come across a version of it in the Italian cookbook Nonna’s House. I saw a sauce using mascarpone and walnuts and instantly felt inspired.
“Mascarpone!” I thought to myself in that “aha” moment. Brilliant! In case you’re not familiar, mascarpone is Italian cream cheese, and is made of, well…cream. It’s the luscious ingredient in tiramisu. Why not use it in a creamy walnut sauce?
So, I got in the kitchen and began experimenting. I had to add garlic, of course, and taking a note from Mom’s pesto, decided to go with a 50-50 combination of Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheeses. I increased the walnuts and olive oil, substituted a little fresh basil for the parsley, added salt and pepper, and incorporated a bit of butter and some pasta water into the final dish, to achieve a nice consistency – no dryness allowed.
And, guess what? Once the walnuts are toasted in a pan on the stove, all the sauce ingredients get blended in the food processor or blender in a matter of a couple minutes. The result is essentially a blonde walnut pesto. Oh, my goodness. Delizioso!
I don’t know how close my recipe is to the pasta with creamy walnut sauce we ate near Genoa so many years ago. But, our tastebuds are happy. I hope you give this dish a try!
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C, inspired by a dish we ate in Liguria and by a recipe from Christina Narisi Carrozza in the cookbook Nonna’s House, 2015.)