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)
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.