Sunday, March 8, 2009
No vampires at the Festa
Once again, Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook are hosting Festa Italiana. I had a great time last year, sending in my Neopolitan Panna Cotta.
This time I thought I would go down memory lane and contribute a recipe from the only area in Italy to which I've been -- twice -- Piemonte. On two separate trips to Italy, that's where I've ended up, and I have to say that I would return in an instant. I love the countryside, with villages and buildings perched on all the hilltops and luscious vineyards which produce the most delicious red and white sparkling wine. I ate my first agnolotti on one of those hilltops. On one excursion, a friend and I drove down through Milano towards Asti, and stayed in an old farm house that was converted to a B&B. We spent quite a bit of time in both Piemonte and Liguria, and I recall that we also spent some time in Genova and Torino. One of my favorite places was Noli.
On the second trip, once again I found myself in Piemonte, this time staying in a tiny medieval village in the mountains, Airole. Each morning I'd walk down to the town square and order a special cheese and ham sandwich-like thing for breakfast, then drive down toward the coast to go shopping in Ventimiglia or Nice. There was also a side trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo.
Sometime after these trips, I discovered a cookbook devoted to Piemonte cuisine, so I snatched it up. The dish I'm bringing to the festa comes from this cookbook, reminding me of my wonderful visits to Italy.
Pasta with Garlic and Walnut Sauce
(adapted from A Passion for Piedmont by Matt Kramer)
3 ounces finely chopped walnuts
3 finely chopped garlic cloves (I used three extremely large cloves, possibly too much!)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried bread crumbs, soaked in 1/2 cup milk
Place all ingredients into a food processor, and process until well-blended. (My sauce was more like a paste, so perhaps adjusting the olive oil would make it more sauce-like, and it was a perfect color match with the whole wheat pasta.)
Boil one pound of pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large, warm bowl. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the sauce and mix until the pasta in thoroughly coated. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.