One of my “go to” pasta dishes has always been spaghetti with garlic, oil, and hot chili flakes (Aglio, Olio, & Peperoncino). It is a dish that can be pulled together in minutes, always takes great, and can be assembled with ingredients that you already have in your pantry. I came across a version of this dish that included walnuts and orange zest, and I just had to try it. I used spelt pasta in place of regular spaghetti because I am working hard to make healthier choices this year and spelt pasta we love the flavor of whole grain pasta. You could use any whole grain pasta you prefer, or even traditional spaghetti if you like.
I came across blood oranges in our local grocery store at a crazy inexpensive price so of course, a bought a bagful that I needed to use up. I decided blood oranges would be great in this recipe, but you could use regular oranges as well. The walnuts add both texture and an earthy flavor that pairs really well with the nutty flavor of the spelt pasta, and the orange zest nd juice, really brightens up this dish. I added some chopped fresh parsley to add another fresh ingredient, and although I served the pasta with a sprinkling of grated Romano cheese, I do believe that the cheese was not needed. We like spicy food, and my husband added additional red pepper flakes to his portion, but I found the pasta just spicy enough for me. If you are making this dish for a family with small kids, you might want to leave out the chili flakes and offer them to those who want them after serving. Though not a traditional pasta dish, it was delicious and is one I am sure that I’ll be making often in the future.
Deborah Mele 2019
- 1/2 Cups Finely Chopped Walnuts
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes (See Notes Above)
- 1 Teaspoon Grated Orange Zest (I Used Blood Oranges)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Juice From 1 Orange
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 3/4 Pound Whole Grain Pasta
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, then added the walnuts.
- Stir continually and cook the walnuts for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili flakes if using, orange zest, salt and pepper, and cook another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.
- Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until "al dente".
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup and add the pasta to the skillet with the garlic mixture.
- Turn the heat to high, and toss the pasta in the oil mixture along with the orange juice and parsley, adding just enough pasta water to coat the pasta with the garlic walnut sauce.
- Serve immediately, offering grated cheese at the table.
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