First recipe of 2020! Whoohoo! If you saw my last post, you know that my intention for this year is reinvention. And as most people at the beginning of the year, I’m also trying to shed the extra holidays pounds I somehow acquired through my abundance of eating, drinking, and sleeping the last two weeks (insert some sort of joke about hindsight 20/20 here).
I’m not the type of person to “cut out” anything from my diet (the more you tell me no, the more I want to do something), so I say try to find different ways to enjoy food. So that’s why I decided to remake the alfredo sauce. Alfredo sauce is… absolutely and utterly delicious. The main ingredients of a conventional alfredo sauce are butter, heavy cream, and cheese – a food lover’s dreams. I used to eat it all the time in my 20s but had to give it up once I got a desk job and my pants started to get tighter. With this toasted walnut alfredo sauce recipe, I can enjoy it more without all the guilt and extra gym hours.
This recipe uses the creaminess of walnuts to give it that unctuous velvety mouth feel. Walnuts on their own are typically buttery and smooth so it just lends itself to make a great alfredo alternative. And yes, you can definitely taste the walnuts; I actually quite like that though. The walnuts give the sauce an added dimension of nuttiness and helps break up a heavier dish/sauce.
Some helpful tips when making this toasted walnut alfredo sauce:
- Enjoy it with any pasta you wish. I tossed it with al dente rigatoni napoletani as I really like the texture of this pasta with the smoothness of the walnut sauce. I also liked that it coated the inside of the pasta too.
- Like some heat? Top it with some red pepper flakes! It adds a nice spiciness against the creamy sauce.
- Never, ever dump out your pasta water! Not just for this recipe, but ANY pasta you cook! After the pasta is done, I add the pasta directly into the sauce pan and then add at least 1/3 cup (sometimes more) of the pasta water into the pasta too. The starches in the water help to bind the pasta and sauce together for a more cohesive, luscious pasta dish. Don’t believe me? Read this.
- Add your favorite veggies or meats to the sauce for a full meal! Pancetta and peas are always some of my favorite pasta pairings.
This recipe can easily be doubled so that the extra sauce can be frozen. Let’s face it, no one wants to come home at the end of a work day and cook for an hour. The walnut alfredo freezes quite nicely in a ziplock bag and can be reheated in a sauce pan right before serving.
Toasted Walnut Alfredo
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, separated into 1 tablespoon and 1/2 tablespoon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 375F and line a half sheet with parchment paper.
- Step 2 Spread walnuts into a single layer onto the half sheet and roast for 5-10 minutes, checking every few minutes to avoid burning.
- Step 3 Blend walnuts, garlic, and water in a blender until completely smooth.
- Step 4 In a pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add flour. Whisk and cook the flour for about a minute.
- Step 5 Add milk and whisk until thick.
- Step 6 Add walnut purée and mix.
- Step 7 Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 8 Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the sauce is heated thoroughly.
- Step 9 Add remaining butter and pasta of your choice (plus pasta water), mix and serve.