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.
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)
How to Make It
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.
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.