While traveling in Tuscany last month, Eleven Eleven Mississippi's Bob Colosimo noted the abundance of walnut sauces in the region and was inspired to create a sauce to complement the pears and sweet autumn squashes that are in abundance right now. Paired with hearty whole-wheat penne, the dish embraces the depth and lingering sweetness of fall.
Pasta with Walnut Sauce Serves 4 to 6
6 ounces walnuts, shelled 1 clove roasted garlic, minced 1 slice bread, crust removed 2/3 cup whole milk 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 fresh pear, peeled and small-diced 1 cup butternut squash, small-diced and blanched until tender salt and pepper 1 pound any short, flat pasta (works well with whole-wheat varieties) chopped Italian parsley for garnish
1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.
2. Toast walnuts in a dry frying pan until they are aromatic. Put all but one ounce of the walnuts into a food processor with roasted garlic, bread, milk and Parmesan. Blend until it turns creamy. Drizzle in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Blend again. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
3. Cook pasta with salt until al dente. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water.
4. Place pasta into large bowl, add squash and pears into the pasta, then add sauce. Thin with reserved pasta water as needed.
5. Roughly chop remaining walnuts and place on top of pasta with parsley and Parmesan.
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