Ligurian Pasta With Walnut Cream Sauce Recipe

Ligurian pasta with walnut sauce
Ligurian pasta with walnut sauce - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

If food is your love language, you'll likely agree that there is no quicker way to go straight from your stomach to your heart than with a perfectly cooked bowl of pasta smothered in your favorite sauce. Pasta and their sauces can come in an endless list of combinations and have been adapted the world over, but there is no denying that the true experts of pasta are based where it all originated: Italy.

While many of the world's most beloved pasta sauces use either tomatoes, meats, vegetables, or cream as their flavor base, the Italian region of Liguria is known for its unique and distinctive pasta culture. Home of basil pesto, as well as arguably the most beautiful pasta variety — corzetti, a coin shaped pasta embossed with different designs — Liguria is also known for its walnut cream sauce. Once you've tasted this richly nutty and dreamily creamy pasta sauce, you'll realize precisely what you've been missing.

This pasta with walnut cream sauce recipe, created by Tasting Table's Jennine Rye, pays homage to the original Ligurian dish. Using milk-soaked bread, toasted walnuts, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic, this sauce is made even more luscious with the addition of heavy cream. Served with a traditional Ligurian pasta shape, trofie, this dish is a celebration of the foods and flavors of the Italian Riviera.

Read more: 20 Italian Dishes You Need To Try At Least Once

Gather The Ingredients For This Ligurian Pasta With Walnut Cream Sauce

Ligurian walnut pasta sauce ingredients
Ligurian walnut pasta sauce ingredients - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

To begin this Ligurian pasta with walnut cream sauce recipe, first you will need to gather the ingredients. You will want walnuts, bread (with the crusts removed), whole milk, garlic, grated Parmesan, black pepper, olive oil, heavy cream, and pasta.

For this recipe, we highly recommend using a pasta that is specific to the Italian region of Liguria. Rye has used trofie pasta for this dish, which can be traced back to the time of the crusades and has a unique twisted shape, making it a perfect pairing for the walnut cream sauce.

Toast The Walnuts

Walnuts in roasting pan
Walnuts in roasting pan - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

To enhance the nutty flavor of the walnuts in this dish, start by preheating the oven and placing the walnuts into a roasting tray. They will be separated later on, with the majority of the toasted walnuts being used to create the sauce and a few reserved for topping the completed dish. Place the walnuts into the oven for around 8 minutes until they begin to darken and smell nutty. Then remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.

Create The Walnut Sauce

Ligurian walnut sauce
Ligurian walnut sauce - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

Traditionally, the walnuts and other ingredients used to make this sauce would have been crushed into a paste using a mortar and pestle. While this option is still available, it is much quicker and easier on the arms to make the sauce using a blender. First, soak the crustless bread in milk for a few minutes, and then gently wring it out and add it to the blender. Add the roasted, cooled walnuts, along with the garlic, Parmesan, black pepper, and olive oil. Blend everything to create a paste, adding the milk in increments if needed to loosen things up a little.

Cook The Pasta

Cooked trofie pasta
Cooked trofie pasta - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

Once the walnut sauce is ready, it's time to cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and then add the trofie pasta. Cook for 9-10 minutes, or according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain it, but don't forget to reserve a cup of pasta water first for the final stage of creating this dish.

Combine The Pasta And Sauce

Mixing pasta with sauce
Mixing pasta with sauce - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

To complete the dish, warm up the walnut sauce in a pan, gently mixing it with the cream. Once they are combined into a creamy consistency, add the trofie to the pan and stir it to throughly coat it in the sauce. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as you need to loosen up the sauce and help it to coat the pasta perfectly, then serve it hot and fresh, topped with the remaining chopped, toasted walnuts and a little extra Parmesan if desired. Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container and consume within 3 days.

Ligurian Pasta With Walnut Cream Sauce Recipe

Pasta with walnut cream sauce
Pasta with walnut cream sauce - Jennine Rye/Tasting Table

Prep Time: 10mCook Time: 20mYield: 4 servingsIngredients

  • 2 cups walnuts, divided

  • 2 slices bread, crusts removed

  • ¾ cup whole milk

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 12 ounces (¾ pound) trofie pasta

  • ½ cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and add the walnuts to a large roasting tray. Place in the oven to toast for 8 minutes until darkening in color. Leave to cool.

  2. Place the bread into a bowl and add the milk. Let soak until the bread is saturated, then gently ring out the bread and add it to the food processor. Set the milk aside.

  3. Add 1 ¾ cups toasted, cooled walnuts to the food processor, along with the garlic, parmesan, and the black pepper. Blend with the bread for 20-30 seconds.

  4. While mixing, slowly drizzle in the oil and then add the milk in increments, if needed, to create a thick sauce.

  5. Cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions.

  6. Place the walnut sauce and heavy cream into a large pan and slowly heat, stirring to combine.

  7. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix to coat, adding pasta water as needed until the sauce is thick, creamy, and clinging to the pasta.

  8. Serve the pasta topped with the remaining toasted walnuts and extra Parmesan, if desired.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.