Italian Language Blog

Le Noci Posted by on Nov 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

This year has been great year for le noci (walnuts), and every day I go out to pick up manciate (handfuls) of them that have fallen from un noce (a walnut tree) in front of our house. I share this tree with a couple of scoiattoli (squirrels), which keep themselves busy all day long running up the noce, collecting noci, and running down again to store them away in a secret place. We always enjoy watching these two squirrels from our kitchen window as they skillfully jump from one branch to another with their long fluffy tails trailing behind them.

Earlier this year, at the end of June when the walnuts were still acerbe (unripe), and had il mallo verde (the green husk), I made il Nocino, a strong aromatic liqueur typical of the Emilia Romagna region, which we drink as a digestivo (digestive) in piccole dosi (in small doses). Now it’s autumn, the noci are ripe, and we eat them as a snack or use them in cakes and cookies. But there is one special recipe that we love, and which I always make when fresh walnuts are available, il Pesto di Noci (Walnut Pesto). This pesto is originally from the Liguria region and, as the name suggest, was traditionally made in the mortar and pestle (hence the word pesto, from the verb pestare = ‘to crush’), although nowadays we use an electric blender. It’s a simple and tasty recipe ideal for dressing i pansoti, a type of ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, or in fact any type of egg pasta. This recipe makes enough for four people.



16 noci (16 walnuts)

Mezzo spicchio d’aglio (half a clove of garlic)

4 cucchiai di olio extra vergine d’oliva (4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil)

Mezzo bicchiere di latte (half a glass of milk)

2 cucchiai di Parmigiano grattuggiato (2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese)

Sale a piacere (salt to taste)



Shell the walnuts, and put them in warm water. When they have softened a bit you should be able to remove the dark skins until you are left with the whitish nut inside. Put the walnuts in a blender with the garlic, salt and olive oil, and blend the ingredients until you obtain a smooth, thick paste, adding the milk a little at the time. Finally incorporate the Parmigiano, and put the resulting pesto aside to rest.

While the pasta is cooking, add a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta water to your pesto in order to make it a little more liquid. Serve the pasta, and dress it to taste with your lovely fresh pesto di noce. Ecco fatto! 

Buon appetito!

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  1. Vince Mooney:

    Salve Serena:

    Just curious (as I’m not a cook.) How much liquid does a bicchiere hold?

    Also, is it legal to make liquor at home in Italy?


  2. Serena:

    Salve Vince! ‘Un bicchiere’ holds 250 ml, ‘un bicchierino da liquore’ holds 50 ml.

    Yes, it is legal to make liquor at home as long as you don’t sell it. In fact supermarkets sell bottles of pure alcohol (95 degrees!) for people who want to make homemade liqueurs.

    Cordiali saluti da Serena

  3. Nathan:

    Just made this and the wife and I loved it. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. William Auge:

    Salve Serena,
    ho fatto stasera il pesto di noci. Ne ho usato col tortellini di spinaci e ricotta. La mia famiglia gli piaciuto molto. Qualche volta Io uso le noci invece dei pinoli quando faccio il pesto di basilico.

    (Sono stato usare la particella pronominale ne correttamente nel sotto frase?)

    auguri, William

  5. Serena:

    Salve Nathan, non c’è di che!

    A presto da Serena

  6. Serena:

    Salve William, sono contenta che il pesto di noci vi sia piaciuto. Nel pesto di basilico in genere oltre ai pinoli ci vuole anche una noce o due.

    Per quanto riguarda la particella pronominale ne, la hai usata nella posizione corretta, ma normalmente ci vuole anche qualcosa che esprima una quantitá, anche se indeterminata. Per esempio: ne ho usato un po’ coi tortellini di spinaci e ricotta.

    Auguri, Serena

  7. William Auge:

    Salve Serena, grazie per la lezione. Io continuero’ a studiarlo. Cosi tanto imparare, cosi poco tempo.
    A presto, William

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