Walnut Pesto Spaghettini & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Walnut Pesto Pasta Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I’m going to get straight to the point. If you like eating nuts, especially walnuts, THIS is THE sauce for you. Look no further.

On a recent trip to Italy, I was served a bowl of linguine with the most exquisitely nutty, garlicky and creamy light-brown sauce. I could have sworn I had ordered a pesto sauce and was expecting the bright green color that I associate with pesto made with basil. I took another look at the menu as I inhaled the pasta, thinking I may have been served the wrong but oh-so-right dish, and wanted to know what it was. It was indeed a pesto but one made entirely with walnuts and no basil.

And just like that, I was introduced to a new favorite – Salsa Di Noci  – which I’ve been recreating in my Brooklyn kitchen during this long winter when basil has been out of season and cannot be found at my local farmer’s market.

Walnut Pesto

Pesto (Italian: pestare – to pound) originates from the Ligurian coast in the North West of Italy. It is traditionally made with garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan), and the basil  that grows abundantly along the coast. While this the most common recipe, this region and especially it’s capital, Genoa, are also known for many other variations including the one made with walnuts, which has become a classic for it’s rich simplicity.

Spaghettini with Walnut Pesto

The ease of this dish alone should make you want to cook this today. All you do is roast the walnuts, blend them in a food processor with good olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, creamy fresh ricotta, lemon zest and a few spoonfuls of the water that you cook the pasta in. Ecco fatto! That’s your sauce. I also roasted a handful of juicy cherry tomatoes to add more layers of flavors to the dish. In Italy this pesto is often served with the pasta from the region, linguine, but I used whole wheat spaghettini, and it was great!

For a vegan friendly version, you can leave out the ricotta and Parmesan and just add more olive oil and pasta water. Make sure to experiment with the proportions of the ingredients to get the texture that’s just right for you.

Roasted Walnuts

As I listened to the crackling sounds of the roasted walnuts cooling in a bowl and I savored the nutty smell that filled my apartment, I read up on all the wonderful nutritional benefits contained in these butterfly shaped kernels. Walnuts are high in protein, necessary vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and are very low in sodium and cholesterol. Turns out that they’re not only seriously tasty but are good brain food, help with diabetes 2, insomnia, stress reduction, cardiovascular health, and are anti-inflammatory.

I was so fascinated by all the information I gathered on walnuts from the California Walnut Board that I reached out to them for samples which they graciously sent me; some of which I’m giving away to a lucky reader! Stay tuned.

Now, tell me. Can it get any easier than this to make a sumptuous rustic Italian meal that’s also good for you? I think not.


A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Cherry Tomatoes

Rinse and pat dry the cherry tomatoes. Place them in a single layer on another cookie sheet. You can also line the cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil and top with thyme leaves and a pinch of salt.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Place both cookie sheets into the oven and bake for 8 minutes, checking frequently. Once roasted, remove both trays and set aside to cool.

Walnut Pesto Ricotta Recipe

Transfer cooled walnuts to a food processor along with  3/4 cup ricotta and ¼ cup Parmesan. Blend for a 10 seconds.

Pesto Lemon Zest

Add lemon zest, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the food processor. Blend for another 20 seconds until you have a smooth blended paste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Walnut Pesto Bowl

Boil pasta per directions on package. Before draining the pasta, stir in 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to the pesto.

Pasta Walnut Pesto

Drain and transfer the pasta to the large bowl, adding a little at a time to ensure the desired consistency of pasta to pesto. Toss to coat the pasta. Serve on individual plates and top with roasted tomatoes, shredded Parmesan and chile pepper. Make sure to have a small bowl of the ricotta at the table, in case you want to add more as you eat.

Perfect Morsel: Walnut Pesto Pasta

Here’s the Perfect Morsel of this wonderfully nutty, garlicy, lemony and creamy walnut pesto pasta with a tiny cherry tomato. Enjoy!


  1. Neena says

    Buona ! Ben fatto! Bon lavoro!
    Well done sweetheart !The dish would certainly be deliziosa and inspired me to look for apt italian words to express my wonder!
    Good luck always as you create and connect.

  2. says

    ~What a wonderful recipe and lovely pictures! I love walnuts and all other nuts’ sauces. Have tried cashew, almonds and peanuts sauces before in Pasta dishes but never walnuts. Gottobe my next trial!

    Glad to have found your blog girl! :)


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