In 2011 I traveled with my friends to Cinque Terra, “The Five Lands,” all built on hillsides overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Basil is used throughout the region as pesto and is also blended with spinach and pecorino as the filling for pansoti, a ravioli that is shaped like a triangle. Unless you live in an urban area or regularly make pasta, it’s nearly impossible to find pansoti. Use your favorite ravioli instead. Walnuts and almonds are also grown in this region and the Ligurian walnut sauce that I had over pansoti is seductive! When I returned home and made the sauce, I added just a little vanilla, which accented the walnuts nicely. I used artichoke and butternut squash ravioli in the picture above and served it with a roasted vegetable and white bean salad and Chardonnay. As spectacular as the view walking the ridge from Vernazza to Monterosso! (And, by the way, the sauce would be excellent served over poached chicken or fish.)
Ravioli with Ligurian Walnut Sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon Rain’s Choice pure Vanilla Extract
In a blender, combine oil, nuts, garlic and cheese and blend until almost smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a 12 to 14-inch saute pan and set aside. Add cream to pan.
Place ravioli or pansoti in 6 quarts of boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, saving a little of the pasta water, and pour pasta and water into pan with sauce. Add vanilla to taste. Place over medium heat and toss to coat. Serve immediately with additional cheese on the side if desired.