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Mint and Walnut Sauce

Salsa di Menta e Noce

Serves 4 to 6

This is a special pasta sauce from antiquity that the Etruscans from the town of Chiusi used to serve. Pici, a thin spaghetti, is excellent with this sauce, and the pasta as well as the sauce can be made in no time in a food processor. The pici can be dried for long storage.


4 ounces walnut halves

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, washed, dried, and stemmed

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound Pici or thick spaghetti (see "Pasta")

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for sprinkling

1 large clove garlic, peeled


Place the nuts, mint, salt, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process the mixture until the nuts and mint are finely minced. Add the olive oil through the feed tube, a dribble at a time while the motor is running. Process until the sauce is blended and grainy in texture.

Cook the pici as directed. While the pici are cooking, heat the sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Drain the pici, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Stir the water into the warm sauce. Return the pici to the pasta pot, pour in the sauce, and stir over low heat until the sauce evenly coats the pici. Transfer the pici to a platter and serve with grated cheese.

NOTE: The sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated.

This recipe is from MANGIA PASTA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1998.


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