Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipe: Rotini with Walnut Sauce

I started yesterday with a bowl of Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal and a lemon bar and spent the afternoon up in the mountains with my best friend, lounging on a couch while watching The Patriot. At 4:00PM, still clad in pajamas, I headed home, my thoughts revolving around my rumbling tummy and the question of what to make for dinner. Since I had such a light breakfast and nothing else to eat that day, I felt I could get away with a more calorie-dense dinner, so I made a Giada De Laurentiis recipe (from her Everyday Pasta cookbook) that I'd pulled out to try earlier: Rotelli with Walnut Sauce. The meal was incredibly rich and creamy, so I paired it with a side salad of baby greens with a pomegranate vinaigrette and a glass of white wine. Perfect!

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes (for the pasta), no cooking necessary for the sauce
Difficulty: Easy

  • 1 pound rotelli, fusilli, or rotini (corkscrew pasta)
  • 1.5 cups toasted walnuts (see instructions for toasting nuts below)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

To toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350* F. Spread the walnuts out evenly on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Stir them a few times while toasting and watch closely to make sure they don't burn. 
Bring a large pot of slated water to a boil. Add the pasta until cooked al dente (about 8 to 10 minutes). Drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.
In the meantime, combine the toasted walnuts, butter, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients, then, with the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese, then the heavy cream.
When the pasta is done, stir in the walnut sauce and add a little bit of the reserved cooking water, then stir gently until the sauce completely coats the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and a little Parmesan cheese and serve.

This dish is very decadent and incredibly filling, so you may want to halve the recipe or reserve some of the walnut sauce and use it later in the week. I recommend serving it with a salad or crisp vegetables to add some lightness to the meal.

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