This homemade Walnut Sauce recipe for pasta is a simple but scrumptious dish, giving a fresh and nutritious spin on standard pasta sauces. It's not only deliciously satisfying, but the sauce is also vegan and Daniel Fast approved.
If you are looking for that perfect, last minute kind of meal for busy weeknights, you’re going to love this homemade pasta sauce recipe.
It starts with crushed fresh walnuts, soy milk, and nutmeg that is blended together to create the most amazing creamy walnut sauce. While you can serve it tossed with any pasta you prefer, when we are following the Daniel Fast, we enjoy it served with whole wheat pasta.
This walnut sauce recipe is an old school Italian sauce that is often called Ligurian Walnut Sauce, as a nod to the region of Italy where the sauce originated. On menus at Italian restaurants, you might also see this dish referred to as Agliata with Walnuts or Savore di Noci e Aglio.
The traditional way to make this recipe calls for the walnuts to be smashed with a marble mortar and pestle. While that is a super cool way to make it, let’s face it, throwing everything into a food processor is much easier and a huge time saver.
Why We Love Walnut Pasta Sauce:
Daniel Fast Friendly: The sauce is dairy-free, gluten-free, and Daniel fast approved. My husband and I do a one-week Daniel Fast every year in January, but the recipes are so good and we enjoy eating that way so much that I incorporate many of the recipes into our rotation the rest of the year.
Simple Ingredients: With just 4 basic ingredients you have a rich and delicious sauce for pasta or to serve over veggies.
Healthy: Walnuts are loaded with nutrients. They are rich in antioxidants and a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. If you’d like to read even more about the health benefits of walnuts, check out this article on Healthline.com.
Walnut Sauce Ingredients for Pasta
Whole Wheat Pasta: We use whole wheat spaghetti pasta when we are participating in the Daniel Fast. You can use any whole wheat pasta you prefer. You can also use regular pasta, fo course.
Walnuts: This is the main ingredient in this Italian sauce. Some people toast walnuts before adding them to the food processor, but we used regular walnuts, straight out of the shell. We prefer the milder flavor they provide the sauce.
Soy Milk: The original recipe for walnut sauce will usually call for heavy cream. Because this is a vegan version, we used soy milk to give the sauce a creamy texture. It tastes just as good too!
Nutmeg: This gives the pasta sauce a nice warmth and the slightest hint of nutty flavor. It works amazing with the other ingredients to create a rich and decadent sauce.
Scroll down to the recipe card for a complete list of ingredients and directions.
How to Make Creamy Walnut Sauce with Pasta
To prepare this super healthy Walnut sauce recipe for pasta, you will begin with a large pot of water. Add a couple of spoons of salt to the boiling water and stir for a couple of minutes to make sure it fully dissolves.
Once the water is at a full rolling boil, add your dry pasta of preference and cook it according to package instructions or until al dente. We used spaghetti, but you can use any pasta.
Tip: When adding salt to the water, the water needs to taste more or less like the seawater in saltiness.
In the meantime, with the help of a food processor, chop your walnuts into much smaller pieces. This is to keep the walnuts more uniform.
Add the soy milk, a pinch of salt and pepper, and nutmeg.
Run the food processor until the sauce becomes creamy and smooth.
To finish, transfer the walnut mixture into a medium-sized pan and heat it over medium-low heat.
Once the pasta is ready, drain the water and add it to a pan large enough to mix it.
If the pan isn't large enough, add the pasta and sauce in large bowl and mix there.
Make sure to toss the cooked pasta with the sauce a couple of times to make sure that the sauce sticks all over to make a creamy pasta. Top the dish with a few more chunks of walnuts for a little added crunch along with a sprig of parsley.
Serve immediately with crusty bread. ENJOY!!!
Use fresh walnuts. Though you can store walnuts in the freezer for up to a year, the regular shelf life is just 3 months. This means those leftover walnuts you found in the back of your pantry need to be tossed!
If you let the pasta overcook, it will not be nearly as good. You really need to test pasta a couple of times to catch it right at al dente.
Make sure to thoroughly toss the cooked pasta with the sauce a couple of times. You want to make sure that the sauce sticks all over to make a creamy pasta dish.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a couple of days. I wouldn't freeze any leftovers.
If your sauce seems a little too thick, you can add more soy milk
and give it another spin in the food processor. You can also reserve a cup of the pasta water and add it by the tablespoon to the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency.
This sauce is awesome as a warm dip with a fresh veggie platter.
Serve it with raw vegetables like bell pepper, cucumbers and carrots and you have a quick and easy appetizer.
Serve over your favorite roasted vegetables or baked potato.
For a non-vegan dish or if you aren’t fasting, you can serve this sauce over grilled salmon and shrimp too!
Add-ins and Variations to this Walnut Sauce Recipe
- Extra virgin olive oil: It is very customary, though optional, to finish this dish off with a little drizzle of olive oil.
- Parmesan cheese: What’s pasta without a little parmesan cheese? If you want to keep this strictly vegan, you can use vegan parmesan. You can also use nutritional yeast to give you that same cheesy flavor.
- Heavy cream: For a non-vegan version, you can use heavy cream in place of the soy milk.
- In place of soy milk, feel free to use unsweetened coconut milk from the dairy section at your grocery store.
- Lemon zest: To add a nice hint of freshness, add a little lemon zest. Or you can add up to a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. The amount you should use is a personal preference so add a little and taste as you go.
- Garlic: This recipe doesn’t call for it, but many versions add a roasted clove of garlic to the walnut mixture. You’ll want to be careful with this as to not overpower the mild flavors in the sauce.
- Fresh herbs: Feel free to garnish your pasta with any of your favorite Italian herbs. Fresh marjoram, basil or Italian parsley are great options.
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Walnut Sauce Recipe for PastaPrint this Recipe Pin this Recipe Rate
- 16 ounces Pasta
- 7 ounces walnuts more for topping as desired
- 4 ounces soy milk
- 1 teaspooon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons parsley fresh, optional
- Cook pasta according to box directions making it al dente.
- Using a food processor, chop your walnuts into much smaller pieces. They should be relatively uniform.
- Add the soy milk, salt & pepper, and nutmeg, and run the food processor until the sauce becomes creamy and smooth.
- Transfer the walnut mixture into a medium-sized pan and heat it over medium-low heat.
- Once the pasta is ready, strain it and combine it with the sauce. Make sure to toss the pasta up a couple of times so it is covered in sauce.
- Top with extra crushed walnuts and parsley.
- Serve hot or warm.