I’ve wanted to try walnuts with pasta for a while now, ever since I saw Nigella Lawson’s recipe for walnut pasta, and this dish is inspired by that recipe. Toasting the walnuts really enhances their nuttiness and they’ve worked fantastically here with the mushrooms, garlic, cheese and bacon. The dish is substantial enough without the bacon, so you could easily omit it for a vegetarian version. I really can’t tell you how good this is, it’s great for winter; full of texture, warming and comforting.
Mushroom, Parmesan and Walnut Pasta
1 crushed garlic clove
2 -3 handfuls of thickly sliced mushrooms
4-6 tablespoons of mascarpone (or other cream cheese)
A handful of grated Parmesan cheese
A few handfuls of chopped walnuts
2 rashes of chopped bacon (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. Toast the walnuts in a non-stick dry pan, shaking the pan now and then, until they start to darken a little and you can smell their aroma. Set aside.
2. Fry the bacon, if using, and the mushrooms in a little olive oil until almost cooked through, then add the garlic and fry, stirring, until the bacon and mushrooms are cooked.
3. Stir in the mascarpone cheese and season well with salt and pepper.
4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in a handful or so of grated parmesan cheese to taste.
5. Stir the sauce through cooked pasta, adding a little of the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it if necessary.
6. Sprinkle over the toasted walnuts and grate over some more parmesan cheese