Pasta with Sausage, Walnuts, & Vincotto


My husband is a pastaholic and could eat pasta every day and not tire of it. Although I too love pasta, I do like to switch things up and can enjoy a pasta-free meal. With all the varieties of pasta available along with the unlimited number of sauces one can make, you could easily eat pasta every day for a year and never eat the same dish twice! Because I am cooking pasta so often for my husband, I am always looking for new recipes to try. I was browsing through the cookbook Adriatico, written by Paola Bacchia and came across a unique pasta dish that has a very different type of sauce. The sauce includes ground walnuts, vincotto, a little balsamic vinegar and just a touch of breadcrumbs to bind the sauce together. I have had a bottle of vincotto that I brought back from Italy with me last year and thought that this would be a great way to finally use this condiment.

If you are not familiar with it, vincotto (translated as “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet, thick paste produced by several wine regions in Italy. It is made by slow cooking and reducing non-fermented grape must for many hours, until it has been reduced to about one-fifth of its original volume and the sugars have caramelized. Vincotto has an earthy, sweet flavor, and is not a form of vinegar, though a sweet vinegar version can be produced using a vincotto as a base. You can find a link to buy vincotto in the linki under the recipe below.

I adapted the recipe by first toasting the walnuts, and then by adding some cooked sausage meat to the nuts before grinding them, which gave the sauce a little more body. The sauce is made by adding enough hot pasta water to the pesto-like walnut and sausage mixture. The completed sauce has a very subtle sweetness, that is balanced by the earthiness of the toasted walnuts and sausage. I used ziti pasta for my version, but any short pasta shape will work well in this recipe. Grated cheese completes the dish and also balances the sweetness of the vincotto. I prefer Pecorino Romano over Parmesan cheese, but either will work just fine.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2019

Pasta with Sausage, Walnuts, & Vincotto

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
A unique pasta dish flavored withy walnut pesto and vincotto.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Pound Dried Short Pasta (I Used Ziti)
  • 2 Cups Walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons Coarse Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Cups Cooked Sausage Meat Removed From Casings
  • 1/3 Cup Vincotto (See Notes Above)
  • 1 Teaspoon Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepp-er To Taste
  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  5. While the water is heating, place the walnuts, breadcrumbs, sausage meat, vincotto, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined with the mixture retaining texture. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  7. Cook the pasta until it is "al dente", then drain, retaining a cup of the pasta water.
  8. Return the pasta to the pot along with the walnut mixture and half the pasta water.
  9. Stir to mix over high heat, adding enough extra pasta water to create a creamy sauce.
  10. Serve the pasta immediately in individual bowls, passing the grated cheese at the table.

Notes

Adapted from Adriatico Pasta Sapa e Noci.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 865 Total Fat: 77g Saturated Fat: 15g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 56g Cholesterol: 85mg Sodium: 997mg Carbohydrates: 18g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 3g Protein: 30g