For years, Patricia Wells has written about French cuisine, so when she wrote Trattoria, a book about Italian cooking, there was a great deal of excitement and she did not disappoint.
An Italian trattoria is a resturant tucked away in every Italian neighborhood; a place you can duck into and find a meal that you just might find at home. Wells captures this coziness in her book. There is a tendency to refer to books about home cooked Italian food as “rustic.” That word gets thrown around when a recipe has a short list of ingredients one can pronounce. Its overuse has led to the very mention of “rustic” as some sort of pejorative. Patricia Wells' Trattoria is filled with simple recipes for pasta, rice, roasted meats and desserts.
As a rule, I do not want nuts in my food! I’m not fond of most nuts but I do like walnuts. I have friends in Oregon who supply me with lovely walnuts each summer and his is a great recipe to use the nuts.
Fusilli with Walnut and Garlic Sauce
2 plump fresh garlic cloves, degermed and minced
1 cup (4 ounces; 125 g) walnut halves, toasted and cooled
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1 pound (500 g) dried Italian pasta, such as fusilli
1/2 cup (2 ounces; 60 g) fresh grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly grated black pepper to taste
1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, a pinch of salt and the nuts and process just to coarsely chop the nuts. Add the cream and process to a fairly smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
2. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts (6l) of water to a rolling boil. As the water is boiling place the serving bowl over the pot to warm the bowl. When the water is boiling, add three tablespoons salt and the fusilli, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook pasta until tender but firm to the bite. Drain thoroughly.
3. 3. Transfer the drained pasta to the warmed bowl, and toss to blend thoroughly. Add the cheese and toss to blend. Season to salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed shallow soup bowls and serve immediately, passing the pepper mill.
If you are looking for a quick dinner, this is it. Instead of walnut “halves,” I find this is a great way to use those crumbly shards that remain when you have pulled out all the plump walnut halves from the bag.