Linguine with walnut sauce, also called “Linguine in Salsa di Noci” or “Linguine alle Noci” in Italy, has Ligurian origins, though it can be found throughout the peninsula. Comforting and hearty, especially with our bresaola tossed in at the end, it makes for a filling meal with a glass of crisp white wine. Put in a simple no-frills, stemless glass just like Nonna would and dream of the Ligurian coast.
Bring 6 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to a rolling boil.
For the breadcrumbs
In a small saute pan, add the breadcrumbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt over medium-high heat. When the crumbs start to toast, move them in the pan to toast evenly. They should be deep golden brown on the verge of burnt, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
For the pasta
Add linguine to the salted water. Cook until al dente or one minute shy of the package instructions.
In a deep saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic and walnuts and cook until they are fragrant and just toasted – be sure not to burn them, or the flavor will be ruined. Add the wine to stop the cooking and allow it to reduce enough to just coat the bottom of the pan. Season with a pinch of salt. Remove from heat.
Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.
Return walnut sauce to the stove over medium heat. Add ½ cup of the pasta water to the pan. Add the pasta, parsley, and half of the toasted breadcrumbs to the sauce. Toss to combine, adding more pasta water as needed to maintain a smooth, velvety sauce. Remove from heat. Add the serrano and grated cheese, and strew the bresaola over the pasta so that it doesn’t clump. Toss to incorporate. Garnish with remaining breadcrumbs and additional cheese, if desired.
To make fresh breadcrumbs, cube roughly 3 ounces of a crusty loaf of bread into 1-inch pieces. Add to a food processor in two batches, if necessary. Pulse until coarse breadcrumbs are formed. The yield should be close to 1¼ cups. Spread the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet to dry out slightly. Store or freeze in a tightly sealed container or use as the recipe indicates.