While basil and pine nut versions may be the most familiar variations to Americans, Italy boasts dozens of different types of pestos, often featuring parsley, mint, and other herbs. These sauces predate the introduction of tomatoes in Italian cuisine, which according to food historians didn’t happen until the 18th century, as tomatoes were assumed to be poisonous. This uniquely Sardinian dish boasts a rich and bright flavor from the nuts and the parsley.
3⁄4 cup walnuts
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
6 quarts water
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup (1⁄4 pound) freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional)
Grind the walnuts in a food processor until chopped but not over-processed (avoid mincing or forming a paste).
Cook pasta in a large pot until almost al dente; drain and reserve one cup of cooking water.
In a very large sauté pan, cook the nuts, garlic, and parsley in the olive oil over low heat until the garlic is soft, about 8-9 minutes.
Add pasta and gently mix to combine with sauce.
Add as much of the reserved cooking water as you need to get the sauce consistency you like—probably 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup.
If using cheese, add pecorino to pasta and serve immediately.
The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.Learn More