Pasta with Walnut Sauce

A rich, bread-thickened nut sauce that’s unbelievable with stuffed pasta.–Mark Bittman

LC No Dairy, No Problem Note

Author Mark Bittman notes that you can make a nondairy version of this sauce. Simply use about 1/2 cup bread crumbs, nondairy milk, and omit the Parmesan. Or so he says. You tell us.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes about 4 servings


  • Salt
  • 1 thick slice Italian bread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup walnut halves (or substitute pecans)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound dried, fresh, or stuffed pasta


  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the bread in a small bowl, cover it with milk, and let it soak.
  • 2. Combine the nuts, garlic, cheese, and marjoram in a food processor and, with the machine running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream, adding just enough oil so that the mixture forms a very thick paste. Now add the bread-and-milk mixture and enough water to make a sorta saucy mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3. Cook the pasta until tender. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce and, if the mixture appears too thick, thin it with a little of the pasta cooking water or more olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pass more Parmesan on the side.

Sauce Variations

  • Pasta with Walnut-Tomato Sauce
  • The acidity in the tomatoes lightens the sauce a bit. Add 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped, or 1/2 cup chopped canned tomato, with the nuts in step 1.
  • Pasta with Rich Walnut Sauce
  • Blend 3 to 4 tablespoons mascarpone, cream cheese, or heavy cream with the nuts in step 1.
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