“Salsa alle Noci” can be considered the little brother of “Pesto alla Genovese”: welcome to Liguria!

The Liguria region is the the kingdom of sauces for every kind of pasta, and one of them stands out in particular: indeed, everybody knows Pesto alla Genovese, but did you know that in this region you can find a striking number of this sauce and many variants?


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Salsa alle Noci

One of these variants, and one of the most beloved by local people, is Salsa alle Noci, a creamy sauce made of walnuts that distinguishes it from any other sauce you will find in Italy. Like Pesto alla Genovese, it is made at the mortar and has ancient origins; some say even more ancient than its better-known sibling. Walnuts came from Persia and were introduced in Genoa around 1000 years ago: even nowadays, in Persia and in the Balkan area a very similar sauce can be found.

In case it is not yet clear, Liguria region is particularly into the gastronomic tradition that uses trail mix in the preparation of its dishes: Pesto alla Genovese is made with pine nuts and, of course, the recipe for Salsa di Noci is based on walnuts and, sometimes, even pine nuts to add a sweeter taste. Despite these crunchy ingredients, though, these sauces are beloved for their creaminess and their delicate fragrance.


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The tradition of Salsa alle Noci

The main characteristic of sauces from Liguria is the fact that the traditional recipe requires the usage of the mortar: Salsa alle Noci is no exception, as this process is essential in order to release all the walnuts’ flavour and give the whole preparation a warmer touch.

The balance between sweetness and bitterness makes it a perfect garnish for all kinds of pasta, but there are two Liguria types of pasta which are traditionally the perfect match for Salsa alle Noci: Trofie, a short, thin and twisted pasta, and Pansoti, a ravioli-style pasta with a triangular shape and filled with spinach or fresh herbs.


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Homemade Salsa alle Noci


  • 150 g walnuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 20 g parmesan cheese
  • 20 g pine nuts
  • 80 g extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 g milk
  • Bread crumb

Boil the walnuts for 5 minutes in order to be able to peel the kernel. Pour the milk in a bowl together with the bread crumb and mix, then drain everything with a strainer and keep the milk aside. Add the milk, the walnuts and the bread crumb in a mixer together with the garlic and the parmesan; finally, while blending, add oil until you reach the desired texture. Serve Salsa alle Noci however you prefer: a plate of Trofie or Pansoti would be ideal, but even a bare crouton can be a perfect base!

Photo by Eszter Miller from Pixabay