April 21, 2010

foriana sauce

I came across something called foriana sauce recently, while reading an article in Edible Jersey (I love the Edible magazines!). The sauce caught my attention, first, because I just liked the sound of its name -- foriana, and, second, because it included walnuts, which reminded me of a walnut sauce Nonnie (my dad’s mom) made on Palm Sunday every year when I was growing up. For a while now I have wanted to make a walnut-based pasta sauce, so I thought I would give the foriana sauce a try.  

According to the article, foriana sauce originated as a Lenten dish in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. It is an utterly simple, rustic, savory-spicy-sweet pesto-style sauce made from walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, raisins, and dried oregano, blended together in a food processor and then sautéed in olive oil. I couldn’t resist tinkering with the recipe just a bit, so I added a pinch of red pepper flakes, for extra heat, and a grating of lemon zest and squeeze of lemon juice for brightness and acidity (I’ll bet balsamic would be good for this purpose, too).  I served the foriana sauce tossed with farfalle, just like Nonnie did with her walnut sauce. Since this is a thick, dense pesto, I added a few splashes of olive oil and some of the pasta cooking water to thin it out just enough to coat the farfalle evenly. (Not too much liquid, though. I wanted to keep it fairly dry, so the sauce would snuggle nicely into the nooks and crannies of the farfalle).

Next, I’m thinking about creating a hybrid sauce, a cross between foriana and Nonnie’s walnut sauce, with the addition of tomatoes, tomato paste, and maybe a dash of cinnamon (and leaving out the lemon zest and juice)…will keep you posted on the results. 

foriana sauce with farfalle
Adapted from Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods, by Eugenia Bone (by way of Edible Jersey)

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-1/2 Tbsp sliced garlic (about 5 cloves)
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup raisins (red or golden)
pinch of red pepper flakes (about 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb farfalle
2 to 3 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pulse walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in food processor until roughly chopped. Add the oregano, raisins, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, and pulse for a few more seconds to combine.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the nut, garlic, and raisin mixture along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted (the mixture will look quite dry). Transfer to a bowl and reserve until ready to use.
  • Cook the farfalle according to package directions in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return pasta to pot.
  • Stir in foriana sauce, parsley, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the pasta cooking water, a tablespoon or two at a time, using just enough to loosen the sauce so it coats the pasta evenly but does not make it watery (I used about 3 Tbsp). Add lemon juice to taste, and season with salt and pepper if desired.


    1. That looks so delicious--I have never heard of foriana sauce. I recently tested a recipe from Liguria that has walnuts pureed with breadcrumbs, a little cream and pasta water---wonderfully rustic as well. Foriana has that gusty more southerly Italian sensibility--sweet and sharp notes..mmmmm

    2. Hi Nancy,

      The Ligurian walnut sauce sounds fantastic - have you posted it? I would love to try it.

    3. That looks wonderful Nancy. I bet you it is delicious. A nice take on pesto.

    4. Ray - you're back! It's okay, you can admit that you're one of my testers and you loved the foriana sauce! (But you remain completely objective in your assessments, of course.)

    5. Nancy, this looks great! And farfalle is the perfect pasta for this sauce. I only like golden raisins in a very few things...but in this case I'll bet they worked beautifully. This is making me so hungry.

    6. That looks absolutely scrumptious! Never heard of it before, but it sounds delicious.

    7. I've made something similar (for Lent) but never knew the name of it. Yours has a few more ingredients so am bookmarking this - I like the looks and taste and sound of this.

    8. Amuse: Funny, I'm also not a huge fan of golden raisins on their own but I'm okay if thery're cooked in something. The Edible recipe called for golden, but I only had red (black?) raisins in the kitchen so I used those and it turned out nicely.

      TKW: Welcome and thanks!

      Claudia: Interesting - there must be many Lenten variations on this type of nutty sauce. Some toasted bread crumbs could be nice tossed in too.

    9. Nancy, I haven't posted the Ligurian sauce yet---perhaps in the weeks to come! ps I like your banner---such pretty pears.

    10. The name just rolls off your tongue, doesn't it? Have never heard of it before and it sounds exactly like pesto except this has raisins in it. A surprise!

    11. Thanks, Nancy! I took the photo last fall after I went a little crazy at the apple and pear stand at the greenmarket, but somehow didn't get around to adding it to the banner till now. (Truth is, I couldn't figure out how to crop it correctly, and my boyfriend, aka Meat and Potatoes Man, showed me how. I am woefully un-tech-savvy.)

      I'm looking forward to that Ligurian sauce - will be on the lookout :)

      Barbara: I still can't get over that name; just love it! Really it is just a simple and rustic pesto, though without the fresh leafy herbs. Not sure if they left them out because they weren't in season during Lent, or because the sauce was meant to be preserved, or both. Some research is in order!

    12. What an interesting sauce, Nancy! The name delights me too. :-) I have walnuts AND pinenuts in my freezer waiting to be turned into something interesting. This will be fun! :-)

    13. Oooh,...I so love pasta dishes as lovely, tasty & flavourful as this georgous one!

      Tasty food!