When I was a kid, there was a meal that my mother made regularly on Christmas Eve. It was rich and sumptuous and very, very easy. When I think of this dish, I reflexively think of the little angel chime that was on the table, the one with four candles under it that made the angels turn in a circle.
Honestly, though, this is the kind of meal that can be made any time. I would consider it a fall/winter meal, since it’s filling.
The last time I made it, I decided to make my own pasta, which you most definitely don’t have to do. It just makes the dish a bit more special.
I suggest you use an egg pasta for this dish to make it rich. Here I used about one egg per 100 grams of strong flour, and threw two extra yolks in. I kneaded it for a good while to develop the gluten. I rolled it out using my pasta maker and cut it also using the pasta maker. I started the dough in my KitchenAid then moved it to a marble slab to continue working it. I let it rest for about a half hour before rolling it out. For four people, use about a pound of pasta, or 500 grams (which is a little more, but leftovers are good!).
The sauce is as simple as can be. You can either use cream cheese or mascarpone - it’s your choice. I prefer the mascarpone, but they are both perfectly ok.
12 ounces cream cheese or mascarpone (340 grams)
1 cup of ground walnuts (225 grams)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper.
Place the cream cheese or mascarpone in a bowl. As the pasta is cooking, spoon out a few tablespoons of the boiling starched water and mix it into the cream cheese. Use enough to get a creamy consistency.
Drain the pasta. Place in a large bowl, add the oil and toss the pasta. Add the cream cheese and the nuts and toss. Add a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired.
Serve with grated Reggiano Parmagiano.
You can experiment with this recipe. For example, using hazelnuts would make it more Piemontese, or maybe adding some different herbs might change it up completely. So have fun experimenting, or be a purist - which ever way you choose, the result will be buonissimo!