Most people think of a green sauce made primarily of basil when they hear the term pesto. Pesto is a generic Italian term for anything that is made by pounding and hence pesto can be made from a wide variety of base ingredients. Another favorite of mine that I may have to blog about at a later date is red pesto made with a base of sun-dried tomatoes. Here is a very simple, very tasty pesto made with a base of walnuts.
½ cup walnut pieces
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp walnut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil if walnut oil is not available)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup whole cow’s milk ricotta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb dried linguine
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
While the water is heating, put the walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. With the motor running, dribble in the olive oil and walnut oil and process just until combined. Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the parsley, Parmigiano, and ricotta. Add a few grinds of pepper and stir the mixture until it is well combined and creamy.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and spoon in about three-fourths of the pesto. Add a little of the cooking water and toss until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.
Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed shallow individual bowls, top with a dollop of remaining pesto and sprinkle a little Parmigiano and black pepper over each serving. Serve immediately.