Although it has been out for a couple of years, I have only just come across the incredible Italian cookbook ‘Made in Italy – Food and Stories’ by Giorgio Locatelli. I have been a fan of his since seeing his recipes in the Observer Food Monthly but having over 600 pages of his dishes is an education.
This book is the real deal with chapters solely given over to subjects like; seasoning, garlic, capers, artichokes and vinaigrettes. It is not difficult to follow and offers up the most amazing combinations and inspiring sauces.
Some dishes do require really good ingredients and these will come at a price. However, there is a way to skirt around the pricey recipes and still produce gutsy and evocative dishes.
At just over €40, the book isn’t cheap but it is a heavy weight and will last you for years. If you want to learn how to cook proper Italian food then this is the book for you. I love this book, in fact, I think I’m IN love with this book.
Over the coming weeks I will be sharing some of its gems starting with Tubular pasta with Walnut Sauce. First up is the Walnut Sauce.
Homemade walnut sauce
You will need around 1kg walnuts for this. Try and buy them in their shells, Lidl do bags of walnuts in their shells for less than a euro. If in their shells, crack them and try and keep them as intact as possible so they are easier to toast and peel. Put them on a tray and toast them in the oven at 170C for about 4-5 minutes until golden. Then, while they are still warm, wrap them in a cloth and rub the bundle to pull off as much skins as possible. Leave to cool.
In the meantime crush two cloves of garlic in a mortar, add the walnuts and pound into a smooth paste, then stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil – just enough to make a thick paste. If you are not using it straight away, you can keep it in a sterilized jar covered with at least a finger depth of extra-virgin olive oil – it should keep for around 4 weeks. This sauce can be used in all kinds of fish and pasta dishes.
Tubular pasta with walnut sauce
- 400g garganelli or penne
- 2 tomatoes
- 4 tbsp walnut paste
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- 5 sage leaves, finely chopped
- Sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Get a large saucepan of salted water ready for the pasta.
- Blanch the fresh tomatoes, skin, quarter and deseed.
- Cook the pasta in the salted boiling water for about a minute less than the time given on the packet.
- While the pasta is cooking, put the walnut paste into a large saute pan or frying pan with 3 tablespoons of the oil and heat gently so that the paste melts and doesn’t fry. Season if necessary. Sometimes you might find that the walnut paste may split a little if you overheat it; if this happens, stir in a little hot water to bring it back together.
- Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, add the pasta to the pan of sauce, and toss well. If you feel the sauce needs loosening slightly, add a little of the cooking water from the pasta.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan, together with the Parmesan, chopped herbs and the rest of the oil. Toss well and serve.