Sunday, March 2, 2014


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Farfalle (bowtie) pasta and rapini with Italian Walnut Sauce
I don't know why I haven't shared this sauce before- it's so luscious, creamy and so easy and quick to make.  It is a specialty of the region of Italy where my paternal grandmother's family originated-- Liguria, a north-western Italian province that includes the Italian Riviera and the city of Genoa. Evidently, its origins are ancient. According to one of my uncles, my grandmother's family (who emigrated to Peru in the 1800's) came from the towns of Chiavari, Rapallo and Moneglia. I don't know much else about them, unfortunately.  All I know is that her maiden name was Roncagliolo and her mother's was Guerrini.

I love the description in Laura Schenone's wonderful book about Ligurian food, "The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family".  (It's not just a cookbook-- it's a wonderful read!) The author writes:
"The story begins at Genoa's port, with its ancient layers, its grittiness, its eye towards the Mediterranean Sea.  here we cross paths with Greek, ancient Roman and Arab worlds during much earlier eras of globalization.  Olives, wine, and wheat traveled along these water routes. Migrations began and ended...But the story also begins in the mountains, with ancient Ligurian people who were here thousands of years agom allied not with the water but with wood and stone. It's a story of steepness and difficulty, of chestnuts and mushrooms and gathered greens..."

This recipe, though lightened up (no olive oil or pine nuts) and made vegan, I think retains the character of the original.  It is delicious served over ravioli stuffed with greens, or a simple dish of cooked linguine or tagliatelle.  This time I used farfalle (bowtie pasta) and added chopped cooked rapini (broccoli rabe), which adds a nice slightly bitter note to contrast with the creamy nut sauce, and reminds me of my fore-mothers gathering wild greens in the hills beyond Genoa. I hope you enjoy it!

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(GF and can be soy-free)
Servings: 4
Yield: 2 cups sauce

This is enough sauce for about 12 oz. pasta, plus 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked, well-drained vegetables. It's a modern, lighter version of a very ancient Ligurian sauce to serve on pasta or stuffed pasta (pansotti, or "potbellied" ravioli). Very simple to make! This is a slightly updated version of the recipe in my vegan Italian cookbook "Nonna's Italian Kitchen".
NOTE: Traditionally, no pepper is used in this sauce.

3/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups plant-based milk
1 tsp vegan chicken-style broth powder or paste
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
2 Tbs vegan Parmesan substitute (Earth Island/Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheese Alternative, Go Veggie! Vegan Soy Free Parmesan Grated Topping, walnut-based Parma!,  or homemade alternative of choice
salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp.) 
OPTIONAL: 1 or 2 tsp. chopped fresh basil or marjoram
TO SERVE: More of the same vegan Parmesan sub of your preference to sprinkle on top of the pasta

Heat an 8" cast iron skillet, or other heavy skillet, over high heat. Add the walnuts and reduce the heat to medium. Toast the walnuts, stirring frequently and watching them constantly, until they turn color a shade and smell toasty. Remove them from the pan.

Combine the milk, broth powder or paste, garlic, and walnuts in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a heavy 1 qt. or 1.5 qt saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and keep at a low boil until it has reduced somewhat and thickened to a sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and add the nutmeg,  optional herbs, if using and the Parmesan alternative.

Taste for salt (pepper is not traditional in this sauce). Heat gently before serving with cooked, drained pasta (see text above), alone or with cooked vegetables, such as chopped cooked rapini (broccoli rabe).

 Nutrition Facts (for the sauce only) 
Nutrition (per serving): 212.6 calories; 65% calories from fat; 16.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 240.6mg sodium; 224.8mg potassium; 9.0g carbohydrates; 2.5g fiber; 2.8g sugar; 6.5g net carbs; 8.2g protein.


1 comment:

Corrin Radd said...

Made this today. The sauce is crazy good!