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Penne in Creamy Basil-Walnut Sauce

Karry Hosford
Yield 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)
Essentially a pesto made with walnuts instead of pine nuts, this hearty sauce is a specialty in the Tuscan countryside. Thickening the sauce with milk-soaked bread cuts down on both olive oil and cheese. The sauce will darken quickly, so process the pesto just before serving.

Ingredients

  • 2 (1/2-ounce) slices white bread
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 pound uncooked penne rigate pasta
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Nutrition Information

  • calories 378
  • caloriesfromfat 23 %
  • fat 9.6 g
  • satfat 1.5 g
  • monofat 2.6 g
  • polyfat 4.3 g
  • protein 13.6 g
  • carbohydrate 61.1 g
  • fiber 3.7 g
  • cholesterol 3 mg
  • iron 3.3 mg
  • sodium 365 mg
  • calcium 95 mg

How to Make It

  1. Trim crusts from bread. Place bread in a shallow dish; pour milk over bread. Let stand 5 minutes. Place bread mixture in a food processor; add basil and next 6 ingredients (basil through garlic). Set aside without processing.

  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3 tablespoons cooking liquid. Place pasta in a large bowl. Add reserved cooking liquid to basil mixture in food processor, and process until smooth. Add the pesto to pasta; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.