I have another confession to make: I never used to like walnuts...until I made this dish last night. Something about them always turned me off, almost like they were an inconvenience in whatever I was eating at the moment...too many chunks in my chewy chocolate chip cookies, too large in my granola, and too robust for a delicate banana bread. After literally devouring two plates (and scrapes from the pan) of this surprising, and possibly, new favorite dish, I'm seeing and tasting walnuts in a whole new way.
Maybe it's because they're toasted with the garlic, giving them an even more intense and rounded flavor, or the fact that the "nutty-ness" of the nuts (good one Katie..) went so well with the nutty pasta or some other factor that's beyond me but this dish really is delicious. I'd even go so far as to say it was meaty without meat. It's a must try. And I'm sure you'll find yourself, like us, wanting more and more.
1 lb. thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan/Romano cheese for serving
In a large sauté pan, heat half of the oil over medium heat with the oil; this really amplifies and infuses the oil with the garlic taste. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped walnuts and the bread crumbs and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly until both the bread crumbs and walnuts are lightly toasted and a beautiful golden brown color.
With tongs, mix in the cooked pasta, parsley and remaining olive oil, adding some pasta water if necessary to mix better. Garnish with freshly grated cheese and serve immediately!