For my second dip into the Metropolitan Opera Cook Book, the legendary Renata Scotto's Tagliatelle with Walnut Sauce caught my eye. It was the photo (above) that sealed the deal. Six pans at once, not a hair out of place, and don't you just know that pasta is perfectly al dente.
Here's the recipe:
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Not having any "good (homemade)tomato sauce" to hand, I started from scratch. London tomatoes taste of nothing so I added plenty of other stuff, plus red wine:
Here it is. Two hours to go:
One of the specified ingredients confused me a bit. What's a "coarsely crushed" walnut? Rubble, grit, sugar? In music, terms like forte, lento, meno mosso may sound vague, but everyone knows what they mean. In the kitchen, things are not so clear. For a traditional salsa di noci (the thick paste-like sauce without tomatoes) the walnuts are pounded or ground - but that's not the same as "crushed". So I went for fairly large pieces to begin with - after all, you can't uncrush a walnut. This smelt fabulously nutty as it fried:
Here are all the sauce ingredients cooking together. Not looking too appetising at this stage:
The result - lumps of walnut floating in slop. Oops. But nothing a quick whizz of the hand blender couldn't rectify. The result, a flowing peanut butterish sauce:
One pound of tagliatelle later:
and here's the final result. Absolutely delicious, incredibly easy, and not nearly as fatty and stodgy as the ingredients make it sound. I shall be making this one again.
Another Renata recipe here, together with Dmitri Hvorostovsky's Siberian ravioli and pasta dishes from Cecilia Bartoli, Derek Lee Ragin, Marilyn Horne, Thomas Allen, Bryn Terfel and Ben Heppner.