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Serves 4 - 5

This Italian sauce makes a change from the more usual meat based sauces served with pasta. Provided you don’t have a nut allergy, walnuts can provide a delicious addition to a healthy diet; although they are high in calories, the oil and other nutrients they contain make a valuable contribution to our heart, gut and cognitive health. For this recipe they are lightly toasted to bring out their flavour.

I recommend serving this sauce with pasta shapes that will hold it, such as shells, spirals or penne, rather than spaghetti or tagliatelle. It is equally suitable for serving as part of a fancy dinner or lunch party, or as a simple supper dish. A leafy green salad dressed with a sharp vinaigrette would be a good accompaniment. And a vegan version can be made by substituting the butter and Parmesan cheese with non-dairy alternatives.

The sauce can be made in advance, and stored in the fridge or frozen.


  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 75g butter
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 350g pasta shapes
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Heat your oven to 180°C, gas 4. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 8 -10 minutes. Take care as they burn very quickly.

Put the butter, oil, garlic and walnuts into a food processor or blender and grind to a fairly smooth paste. Scrape this into a bowl and add 50g of the parmesan cheese.

Taste, and season to your liking.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta for the time shown on the packet. It should be ‘al dente’ – not too soft.

Take 6 tablespoons of the cooking water and stir it into the walnut sauce to loosen it.

Then drain the pasta, return to the pan and stir in the sauce.

Serve on heated plates, and pass round the remaining cheese separately.

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Mar 01, 2024