Walnut Pesto Pasta

Last week, I told you about Marlena de Blasi’s book about living in Italy and linked up one of her recipes. This week, I tried another one and decided it was worth sharing. If you love walnuts, you will really enjoy this versatile pesto recipe.

The word pesto actually means “to grind” or to make a paste — it’s from the same Latin root as pestle — as in mortar and pestle. This walnut paste is made by grinding up walnuts just like you grind up basil, pine nuts, and parmesan to make basil pesto sauce.

De Blasi says that walnut pesto is good on roasted chicken or pork, on grilled bread, as a sauce for vegetables, or as a garnish for soups. We used it as a dip for carrots and celery appetizer, and it was wonderful. The sweet and savory flavor is set off nicely by other textures.


  • 1 pound shelled walnuts, slightly roasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • several gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • sea salt and just-cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used almond milk to lighten it up)
  • 1/4 cup late-harvest white wine such as Vin Santo or Moscato
  • 1 pound tagliatelle, fettucine, or other “ribbon” pasta
  • Figs for garnish — fresh is better, but dried works too

Directions for the sauce

  • Spread the walnuts out on a metal baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about ten minutes.
  • In the food processor, pulse the walnuts with the steel blade until they are like coarse meal (you want texture, so a coarser grind is better.
  • Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and pulse a couple of times to combine with the walnuts.
  • With the machine running, pour a mixture of the olive oil, cream, and wine through the feed tube and process until the paste is emulsified.
  • Check spices and sweetness — I added a little bit of sugar-free pancake syrup for a little more sweetness.

Directions for the pasta

  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water to the al dente stage and drain.
  • Toss with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce.

Yield: 4 servings as a main course — recipe makes about two cups of walnut sauce. The sauce can be refrigerated and used as a condiment or dip.

Printable Recipe

I’m linked up this week at Stone Gable’s On the Menu Monday. Please stop by and check out the inspired cooks who link up — I find new recipes every week.


2 thoughts on “Walnut Pesto Pasta

  1. This sounds really good. I’m allergic to pecans, so I always keep walnuts in the pantry so I can substitute them in recipes. I’m always looking for different things to do with them and I love pesto and pasta anyway. I know I would love it. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  2. I generally prefer pecans, but the roasting process as well us lightening up the somewhat bitter taste of walnuts with sweet wine and cream makes this scrumptious! Thanks for stopping by, Shannon.

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