Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pasta with walnut sauce

Eastside Road, Healdsburg, March 22, 2009

THERE'S A WALNUT TREE next to the mailboxes, so last October, I think it was, I picked up a few fallen walnuts every time I went down to get the mail. I spread them out on a tray I'd made by stapling some quarter-inch hardware cloth to a wooden frame, and set that in the cab of the El Camino: a perfect drying apparatus.
A couple of days ago I sat out in the sun for an hour cracking yet another pound or so of them, and today I made the sauce. Lindsey found the recipe online (there's a version here). Simple enough: a quarter-pound of walnuts, toasted to enhance their flavor; a slice of bread soaked in a cup of milk; an ounce of Parmesan cheese, grated; a clove of garlic: put them all in a blender and make a thick creamy sauce. Add three or four tablespoons of olive oil and blend some more, salt and pepper to taste. (You may need to thin this with more milk.)

Cook your pasta and drain it, then toss it with the walnut sauce, and garnish with chopped parsley and walnuts. After the pasta, we had chard from the garden.
Cheap Pinot grigio

1 comment:

Curtis Faville said...

Chard and walnuts. Memories.

When I was growing up, one of my Stepfather's little conceits was a kitchen garden. We lived on the Western slopes of the East side of the Napa Valley. The soil was extremely rocky--we would throw them as they came up in the pitchfork, into the alley, and after four or five years the level of the ground behind our fence must have risen at least a foot and a half (pure rock!)--and it tended to dry out hard in Summer, so lots of watering was needed. Certain things just wouldn't grow there--peas and lettuce and sweet corn--but we'd get good beans, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and of course chard (though spinach wouldn't grow either). The chard grew in big pale yellowish green leaves, which were easy to pick. Boiled, it didn't resemble spinach but was still pale, though it was mild and went with almost anything.

In my early 'teens, a family friend for whom I'd worked on and off as a carpenter's helper, took me along on his rock collecting expeditions to the coast. He'd collect big samples, as big as footballs, which we'd lug up these steep slopes in gunny sacks, which he'd then "tumble" for weeks or months in a water cylinder to make them smooth. It usually seemed to be wet and rainy when we went. I remember many times, sheltering under an overhang, eating tunafish sandwiches he'd made, with walnuts added, on whole wheat bread. Boy, did they taste good! --especially after three hours of drudgery in a wet fog! Our last trip he had to stop on the way home to doze for a few minutes--he didn't know it, but he was already being pulled down by the stomach cancer that would kill him in another 18 months. Lynn Parker. There's a little block of houses on the West Side of the Valley named Lynn Drive, where all the houses were built by him, his son Edward still lives there, if he survives.