All I can say is What a treat! Another reason to get out of your grocery store and get involved in your local farmer’s market. The beautiful walnuts photographed below are called “red walnuts”. You won’t find these in a mass chain store.
I was introduced to them at the La Jolla Farmer’s Market by Jeff at Terra Bella Ranch. His walnuts are organic. Red walnuts cost twice as much (a half pound cost me $10.00). Here’s why according to Jeff: It takes 8 years before you can harvest the tree. The shells have to be hand harvested to retain the bright color. This process is expensive so only a few farmers grow this rare variety.
One taste and I became an instant fan. They are rich in flavor and slightly sweet. Unlike dry store bought brands. Just a few is all you need to notice you are enjoying something rare. When ever I grab a bag I am inspired to get in the kitchen. Red walnuts end up in cookies, rice dishes, soups and now this pasta dish.
To highlight the quality of these nuts I use only a few ingredients in the dish. All organic and as fresh as you can find. I love to use the “Dolce” variety of Gorgonzola cheese. Dolce means “sweet”. It has a creamier rather than salty flavor. Roasting the shallots and garlic also enhances the sweetness in the dish. If you can’t find red walnuts use organic traditional walnuts instead.
I am proud to say that Terra Bella Ranch is featuring this recipe at the farmer’s markets and in their newsletter!
“Red” Walnut and Gorgonzola Pasta
1 Pound linguini pasta, dry
2 Cups Walnuts (“Red” walnuts if available-specialty store)
3 Ounces Gorgonzola “Dolce”
1 Small Shallot, skin removed but left whole
3 Garlic cloves, left whole and in the skin
3 Teaspoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon fresh thyme
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Place walnuts, garlic and shallots on a baking tray. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt.
Cook linguini according to box directions.
In a food processor place the whole shallots, walnuts and gorgonzola. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin. Add it to the food processor.
Turn the processor on and slowly add in the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Set aside.
Drain the pasta but reserve 1 tablespoon cooking liquid. Return pasta back to the pot. Stir in cooking liquid and walnut sauce. Stir until smooth.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh thyme.
All recipes © Laura Dove