Thickening sauces with bread is a very old-world way to use up any sort of stale bits you happen to have, but it also makes a sauce with a wicked rustic texture and is totally different than thickening with starches or using a reduction. If you happen to have garlic bread lying around, this is a great place to use it as well.

Pasta with walnut garlic sauce

Pasta with walnut garlic sauce

If you’re looking to make this a heartier meal, try adding some cubes of thick-cut bacon; or, if you’re feeling like a more meatless alternative, some grilled eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 slice of bread
  • ⅓ cup parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 250 grams spaghetti
  • Thyme leaves, to garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toast the walnuts until they just begin to brown, then remove from heat. Place walnuts in a bowl and reserve. Place skillet back over heat and melt the butter, add the garlic and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add milk and bring to a simmer. Then add bread and remove from heat. Stir bread into milk mixture and mash with a spatula until you get a thick paste. Add half the reserved walnuts and the parmesan cheese and, using a hand blender, blend until the large chunks are gone but the sauce still has a coarse texture, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions on package, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid. Then drain pasta and add it to the sauce. If needed, add some reserved pasta cooking liquid to loosen the pasta. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and top with remaining walnuts and serve.