This is the best thing I've cooked with the least effort in the past month. Most of my lazy lunches never make it to the site, but this pasta is an exception. If you have a favorite dried pasta, a few cloves of garlic, walnuts, and black pepper, you can do it too. The other ingredients – lemon peel, some grated cheese, a final cascade of breadcrumbs and herbs – are recommended, but are not essential. It's the kind of meal that ticks the box if you fancy creamy pasta but no cream is needed. You get a rich, nutty walnut sauce if you crush garlic and roasted walnuts into a paste and dilute with a good amount of salted pasta water. Peak Comfort Food.
What kind of pasta to use?
I vote for short pasta, preferably something whole grain and something rustic. The pasta shown is Emmer Reginetti. I packed it on a whim the first time I cooked it, and it worked wonderfully for this recipe. The way the frills catch just the right amount of creamy walnuts is nice. Play around with different noodles and experiment with shapes you love. Fusilli can be large or even small shells.
– – Experiment with other nuts: You may be able to make a nice alternative version of the walnut sauce with roasted almonds or roasted pecans instead. Or a mixture of the available nuts. I made 100% walnuts but suspecting other nuts would be great. The key is to season well – salt, pepper and some lemon juice. Take your time to get this part right.
– – Add some green! Throw a few broccoli florets or asparagus in the pasta pot at the last minute to add a vegetable component without getting another pot dirty. We were out of both (yikes) or you would have seen one of them show up here.
– – Leftovers! Make a quick noodle bean stew if you have leftovers. Combine the walnut noodles with some white beans in a saucepan. Add good-tasting broth, heat, season, and add some grated cheese to bring it all together. A handful of well chopped kale would not be undesirable.
If you need more pasta inspiration, try this pasta with Etruscan sauce or my favorite tomato sauce (for pasta and pizza), curry tomato tortellini soup or pasta with mashed zucchini cream (in summer). A fun project is making homemade gnocchi, but if that's a little too ambitious, try this last-minute lasagna recipe, the Orzo super salad, or the family's favorite stuffed mussels. There's also a huge archive of pasta recipes and dinner ideas!