Salsa di Noci | Italian Walnut Pesto Recipe
This walnut sauce comes from Liguria, home of basil pesto, and is actually just as much of a classic as the latter despite not being as famous abroad. It's thick, creamy, and cheesy, and can be used as a dip, spread or pasta sauce. Try pairing it with homemade chestnut pasta!
Like pesto, salsa di noci is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle. While the former should never be made using a blender or food processor as the basil will become bitter, this sauce can be whipped up in a machine without sacrificing much flavor.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
For this recipe, you will need:
1 oz. (30g, about 1 slice) homemade bread with crust removed
1 1/2 cup (150g) shelled walnuts
1 oz. (30g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste
1 garlic clove, peeled and cored
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Break the bread up into small chunks and place in a small cup or container. Fill the container with milk and let the bread soak for just a minute or two, or until it softens. Break it up into a pulp, scoop it up and squeeze the excess milk out. Place the bread pulp into the bowl of a blender or food processor, but save the milk for later.
A quick note on blenders: the smaller the bowl, the easier it will be to mix the pesto. We used very small "personal" shaker cups for ours. If you only have a very large bowl available, consider doubling the recipe and making extra as this will give the blender blades more to grab onto.
Into the blender bowl add the walnuts, Parmigiano, garlic, and olive oil. Also add a sprinkle of dried marjoram and a generous pinch of salt.
Blend the ingredients together into a thick paste. Don't worry if the mixture seems too dry and the blender has a hard time mixing it at first. Keep scraping the sides and gradually adding a little bit of milk at a time until the pesto is just wet enough for the blender to process.
The finished pesto can be kept refrigerated in a sealable container for up to three days. To use as a pasta sauce, spoon the desired amount (about 1 big scoop per serving) into a large bowl and thin it with some hot pasta water. Generally you want it to be thin enough that it can coat the pasta, but thick enough that it can still stick to it. Transfer the cooked pasta directly into the bowl and stir all together before serving. Drizzle the finished pasta with olive oil.