Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fusilli with Walnuts and Garlic Sauce - Blue Monday

When a chef with the stature of Mario Batali embraces a trend you know it has become mainstream. Last week he announced his decision to observe Meatless Monday in all of his 14 restaurants. He plans to have at least two meatless entrees on his menus every Monday. You can read more about his decision here. I am also embracing the trend and will try to prepare a meatless meal each week. That may be easier said than done. Like many of you, I am married to a committed carnivore who will not easily adapt to the notion. We are going to try anyway. I've started to round up recipes that are new and interesting, but meatless. Good recipes will go a long way to make the transition painless. So will ear plugs. The first of the recipes is an old one I've resurrected from Patricia Wells' book, Trattoria. It's easy to make, uses a handful of readily available ingredients and is absolutely delicious if it is served hot. Garlic lovers should be cautious and use no more than is called for in the recipe. Excess garlic will overpower the subtle flavor of the walnuts and the dish will lose it clean flavor. Experience is a great teacher. The recipe also calls for heavy cream. You can substitute a lower fat alternative, but go no further back than whole milk. If you serve this as an entree, you'll also want to serve a large salad and a crusty peasant bread. I went with an arugula and orange salad that nicely balanced the creamy walnut sauce that dressed the pasta. Here's the recipe for a simple but tasty meatless pasta.

Fusilli with Walnut and Garlic Sauce


2 large cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

1 cup toasted walnut halves

1 cup heavy cream

12-ounces dried fusilli

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Coarsely cracked black pepper to taste


1) Place garlic, a pinch of salt and walnuts in bowl of a food processor. Process until nuts are coarsely ground. Add cream and process to form a fairly smooth sauce with flecks of walnuts in it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2) Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt and fusilli. Cook until pasta is tender but firm to the bite.

3) While pasta cooks, heat sauce in a microwave or stovetop until warm.

4) Drain pasta. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss to combine. Add cheese and again toss to combine. Add salt ans pepper to taste. Serve Immediately. Yield: 4 -5 servings.

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