I've been spending time with my cookbooks lately. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have them on the shelf, and that they're filled with swoon-worthy recipes. In this digital age where I receive tweets from my favorite food magazines, have more food apps then I care to admit, and send myself recipes by email, it's easy to forget about the heavy, glossy pages of a cookbook. Not that I don't love them, of course, but I often find myself so inundated by food from other sources during the day that when it comes time for meal planning, I instinctively reach for my iPhone instead of the bookshelf.
I made this pasta last month, but it's really best suited for fall, I think. The recipe comes from Everyday Pasta by Giada de Laurentiis, a cookbook I devoured when I first received it. An entire cookbook about pasta? I was in heaven for days while I stuck post-it notes to nearly every page. Filled to the brim with enthusiasm, I made a few recipes, then placed the cookbook on the shelf and didn't open it again until this summer.
When I revisited the recipes, one caught my eye. It seemed simple, but I never would have thought to puree nuts and create a cheesy sauce out of them. And it just so happened that I had a huge bag of walnuts in my pantry. I added lemon zest to brighten up the flavors, and a touch less cream, though don't eliminate it entirely, because it gives the sauce its lusciousness.
WHOLE WHEAT FUSILLI WITH WALNUT SAUCE
Don't be shy with the parsley here. It provides a punch of flavor and adds color to an otherwise brown dish.
Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Everyday Pasta
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
1 pound whole wheat fusilli (or other corkscrew pasta)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Toast the walnuts by spreading them on a sheet pan and putting them in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Let cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and place it back in the pot.
While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, butter, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan, lemon juice, and cream.
Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water at a time until the sauce coats the pasta. Add the parsley, toss, and serve with extra Parmesan.