Are You Curious About Fresh Pasta with Walnut Sauce? {Cook The Books Club}


September 30, 2014 by Joanne T Ferguson

Walnut-fresh-pastaAre You Curious About Fresh Pasta with Walnut Sauce?

I hope so and hope my featured photo has you salivating already!

First of all, thank you to Debra from Eliot’s Eats, Simona from bricole, Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm, Alicia from Foodycat, Rachel from The Crispy Cook, Deb from Kahakai Kitchen and new to the Cook The Books Club Amy from Amy’s Cooking Adventures for welcoming me to my debut post.

Cook-the-books                                          Thanks Deb for the image!

Each month, a host picks a novel that we all devour (pun intended) and we create a recipe based on the novel.

I LOVE reading as it takes me on mental adventures throughout the world, experiencing life through the characters’ eyes and feeling their wonder, romance, wonderment and surprise!

This month’s wonderful choice was A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi published by Algonquin Books.

A-Thousand-Days-in-Venice                                    Image Courtesy of Algonquin Books

You know by now, I am a sook (Aussie lingo for a softie in a good way) when it comes to romance and romantic musicals like recently in Are You Curious To See Who Feels like “a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls?”

I hope you enjoyed learning more about me and my declaration of:

I have read A Thousand Days in Venice a number of times and each time “reveled” in how romantic Venice seems to me!

George Clooney recently got married there, so romance is still very much alive!

While I am not a book critic, there are some flaws (in my opinion) in the plot and in the description of the characters.

Perhaps the author wanted her readers to use their imagination on what her characters looked like.

Let’s explore the book a little more, eh?

I do hope one day this book is made into a film!

I wonder who would play the lead characters?

I better get back to the storyline and food for a start!

Marlena is a middle aged, divorced, American chef who thought her romantic life was over “until” she met Fernando; constantly referred to in the book as “The Stranger.”

WHAT a moment this would be, Fernando sees Marlena across Piazza San Marco and it is love at first sight.

Piazza-san-marco-godwin-cassar                                   Image Courtesy of fineartamerica

Gondolas-near-piazza-san-marco-in-venice-italy-bonnie-sue-schwartz                                    Image Courtesy of fineartamerican

HOW romantic?

Venice                                  Image Courtesy of

They say nothing gets lost with romance in translation as Marlena speaks only “food based Italian”; Fernando speaks less than that in English.

Yet despite the “almost comical” situation due to a lack of actual communication, within months of meeting Fernando, Marlena “quits her job, sells her house and tells her sons she is moving to Italy to marry “The Stranger.”

If Marlena was your friend, would you think her decision was a bit strange or “as a friend,” would you be supportive of her decision each and every step of the way?

Marlena totally embraces her new way of life, the people, culture and foods of Italy.

I love how “experiencing” this memoir, Marlena shares her love of her new city, her “unusually interesting” (in my opinion) continuing to blossom relationship with “The Stranger,” and in her beginning to accept her true feelings like she has met her soul mate in Fernando.

As a reader, one does seem quite perplexed how this all occurred over time, when day to day communication (other than food related) was quite limited to say the least.

This kept me curious along the way from chapter to chapter!

Understandably, Marlena is “overwhelmed” at times at how different her new city and country is with its different customs, cultural differences and simply stated, “it was nothing like home!”

They say there is nothing like triumph over adversity and it was not until Marlena cooks an American feast of cornbread, fried onions etc for the locals, that they then accept her with open arms as “one of their own.”

My name is Joanne aka Joanna aka mickeydownunder aka FANG, and I am truly a romantic sook!

A Thousand Days in Venice was the first of the memoirs that led to A Thousand Days in Tuscany, The Lady in The Palazzo, That Summer in Italy and finally Antonia and her Daughters; all “interesting reads” too!

FANG is getting hungry with all this talk of romance, so now that you have been salivating based on my photo, I can share I chose to make Fresh Pasta in Walnut Sauce aka (Tagliatelle con Salsa di Noci Arrostite), one of the many recipes included in the back of A Thousand Days in Venice!

Fresh Pasta in Walnut Sauce {Tagliatelle con Salsa di Noci Arrosite}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sometimes it is in the simplicity of a dish that romance blossoms!
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 serves
  • The Pasta
  • Cook a pound of fresh tagliatelle, fettucine, or other "ribbon" pasta in abundant, sea-salted boiling water to the al dente stage, drain, and toss with 1½ cups of the following sauce. If fresh pasta is not available, substitute dried artisinal pasta.
  • The Sauce (Makes about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces shelled walnuts, lightly roasted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Several gratings of nutmeg
  • Sea salt and just-cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup late-harvest white wine such as Vin Santo or Moscato (see Notes)
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the walnuts until they are the texture of very coarse meal (do not grind them too finely - more texture is better than less).
  2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and pulse two or three more times to combine; with the machine running, pour a mixture of the olive oil, cream, and wine through the feed tube and process only until the paste is emulsified.
  3. Taste and correct the sauce for salt and spices.
Copyright 2002 by Marlena de Blasi.
I used Sav Blanc for the wine.
Image by Joanne T Ferguson for What's On the List


The walnut paste type sauce makes a lot and while it is personal taste, I added extra olive oil for the texture and consistency I wanted.

I think this walnut sauce would go great as an accompaniment with cheese or with chicken and tomato sauce.

As I like to minimize food wastage, I had some Latina Basil & Pepper Pappardelle on hand and thought the “wide ribbons of silky pasta” were perfect for this recipe!

Latina-fresh_basil-and-pepper-pappardelle                                           Image Courtesy of plateful

Do you love to read?

Do you like romantic novels?

Do you ever imagine yourself as a character from a book or movie?

Do you like this combination of walnuts, herbs and spices?

Hands up, who would like some of this right now?

Would you like some grated cheese with your Fresh Pasta with Walnut Sauce?

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44 thoughts on “Are You Curious About Fresh Pasta with Walnut Sauce? {Cook The Books Club}

  1. Joy @ Yesterfood says:

    Joanne, your pasta is amazing, and I really enjoyed reading about the book! They both sound like things I would LOVE. Thank you for sharing this with us at Treasure Box Tuesday- pinned! 🙂

  2. This is such a fun post! I love the Cook The Books idea! The walnut sauce sounds and looks amazing! Thanks so much for sharing it, I will definitely have to try this one. I’m so curious what it will taste like. Stopping in from the link up today!

  3. Simona says:

    Nice choice for the pasta: the light green color goes well with the brown walnut sauce.

  4. cathy6c says:

    I just love the look of your pasta dish — mouthwatering! cathy from Delaware Girl Eats

  5. It was fun to see three different takes on the sauce. 😉 It was pretty scrumptious wasn’t it? I almost used pappardelle but I love the basil and pepper version you used–it looks so pretty with the dollops of sauce on it.

    For some reason I envisioned Marlena as Susan Sarandon in my head–I think maybe due to the red hair and earthiness. 😉

  6. I am so glad that you joined us for Cook the Books. I very much enjoyed your take on the book and am anxious to try this recipe that was so popular

  7. Claudia says:

    Well, you know what they say about great minds, I made this as well and loved how it’s so good on vegetables or bread as well as the pasta. I added a bit extra cream and white wine for the consistency.

  8. This looks delicious! I very nearly made this myself, but Hubs wrinkled his nose…now I’m thinking I’m going to make it anyway!

  9. I am drooling over this pasta! I looks amazing! Bookmarked 🙂

  10. lizzygoodthings says:

    How absolutely divine! And I do hope Joanne, that you’re doing just fine xo

  11. This walnut sauce sounds really good! I don’t think I’ve ever tried it but I’d like to-thanks for the recipe Joanne!

  12. I love, love, LOVE papardelle or tagliatelle pasta and walnuts are a superfood. What a great combination along with a book review???! I am in sensory overload. Fun post! #ibabloggers

  13. This sounds amazing! I am always on the lookout for new recipes, and this looks amazing. I’m not sure if my husband will like it… But I’ll eat it 🙂 #ibabloggers

  14. I really enjoyed this post! I love Venice and will have to find A Thousand Days in Venice as I know I would enjoy it. Your Fresh Pasta with Walnut Sauce looks scrumptious!

  15. You have plated your pasta so beautifully, Joanne. This looks like a beautiful meal that must not only have lots of flavour but plenty of texture too. Yes, your choice of pasta was perfect for this dish. Great review of the book xx

  16. I am always looking for great pasta sauces recipe. This one is awesome.

  17. I am a sook too! Love your delicious looking Pasta with Roasted Walnut Sauce. And I think Kathy Bates should play Marlena in the movie version.

  18. Carolann says:

    wow that really looks amazing! I’m going to have to make that for sure! #‎ibabloggers‬

  19. I am not very adventurous when it comes to cooking but your sauce recipe looks divine! I also love to read and love how you incorporated the reading & food into one post 🙂 I love “chick flick” type books or books that would be considered a romantic comedy if it was a movie.

  20. glamorous glutton says:

    This dish looks so tasty. I’ve never herd of the book but I love reading and particularly love food based novels. I’ve just finished Delicious by Ruth Reichl, which was a fabulous read, interspersed with a few recipes. GG

  21. eliotthecat says:

    This looks amazing. I think that Helena Bonham Carter should play Marlena. I’m not sure about “The Stranger.”

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About me

Joanne T. Ferguson

Passionate Home Cook who tries to inspire one recipe and one event at time!


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