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Pasta with nuts three ways

Almonds, cashews, and more make for hearty winter recipes

Pasta tossed with chicken, olives, and almond red pepper sauce.

Photo by Jim Scherer/Styling by Catrine Kelty

Pasta tossed with chicken, olives, and almond red pepper sauce.

PASTA WITH ALMOND-RED PEPPER SAUCE AND CHICKEN

Serves 6

2½ tablespoons olive oil

2 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 thin cutlets each

2 red bell peppers, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 2½ cups)

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 anchovy fillets, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup chopped green olives

2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

¼ cup almond butter

1 pound short and stubby or tubular-shaped pasta, cooked, drained, and hot; ¾ cup cooking water reserved

½ cup chopped fresh parsley            

In a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 4 minutes; turn and cook until cooked through, about 1½ minutes longer. Transfer cutlets to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, cut into strips and set aside.

jim scherer

Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring, until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes; scrape half the peppers into the bowl with the chicken. Adjust heat under skillet to medium, add the remaining oil, the onion, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute longer. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and with a wooden spoon, scrape bottom of pan to loosen and dissolve the fond, about 30 seconds. Simmer vigorously, stirring, to reduce, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the chicken broth, ¼ cup of the olives, and any accumulated juices from the chicken, return to a vigorous simmer and cook, stirring, to reduce slightly, about 3 minutes longer; off heat, cool briefly.

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In a food processor, pulse 1/3 cup of the almonds several times to grind them finely. Add the almond butter, onion mixture, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture back into the skillet and adjust heat to medium-low.

Add the pasta, reserved chicken and peppers, remaining olives, and about 1/3 cup reserved pasta cooking water, and cook, tossing to combine and blend flavors, about 1½ minutes. Add most of the parsley and remaining almonds, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency (use reserved pasta cooking water), if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining almonds and parsley, and serve.

 

SPAGHETTI WITHROASTED GARLIC-CASHEW SAUCE

Serves 6

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, each one cut into 8 chunks

3½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and black pepper

1 head garlic, papery outer skin removed

1 large onion, chopped

1½ cups roasted, salted cashews, ½ cup finely chopped and reserved

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained, and hot; 2 cups cooking water reserved

6 scallions, thinly sliced

With rack in the center position, heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil. On the sheet, toss the tomatoes with 1½ tablespoons oil, thyme, and salt and black pepper to taste; spread into one layer.

Slice off the top third of the head of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves, place in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and cover with foil. Roast the tomatoes and garlic until tomatoes are collapsed and garlic is soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and set aside; remove foil from the garlic and continue roasting until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skins.

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In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the cup of unchopped cashews and the cayenne, and cook, stirring, until nuts are a shade darker, about 3 minutes longer.

In a blender or food processor, process the onion-cashew mixture, ½ cup of the tomatoes, the garlic, 1 cup pasta cooking water, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture back into the skillet and adjust heat to medium-low. Add the spaghetti and about ½ cup pasta cooking water, and cook, tossing to coat the spaghetti, about 1 minute. Add the remaining roasted tomatoes and most of the chopped cashews and scallions, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency (use reserved pasta cooking water), if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining cashews and scallions, and serve. 

 

PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS AND CHESTNUTS

Serves 4 to 6 

Adapted from Eat Right, Eat Well — The Italian Way, by Edward Giobbi and Richard Wolff.

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

Salt and pepper

3 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 tablespoon flour

½ cup amontillado sherry

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1½ cups roughly chopped cooked, peeled chestnuts (about 9 ounces)

1 pound short and stubby or tubular-shaped pasta, cooked, drained, and hot; ¾ cup cooking water reserved

2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra to pass at the table

5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

In a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon each oil and butter until hot and the bubbling subsides. Add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and then brown, about 8 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium, add the remaining oil and butter and the shallots, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and flour, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the sherry, bring to a simmer, and scrape pan to dissolve the fond, about 30 seconds, then cook until thickened, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the chicken broth and reduce again by about a third, about 4 minutes. Add most of the chestnuts and cook, stirring, to heat them through, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the pasta, about half the reserved pasta cooking water, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and cook, tossing to combine and blend flavors, about 1 minute. Add 2/3 cup Parmesan and most of the scallions and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning and consistency (use reserved pasta cooking water), if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining chestnuts and scallions, and serve, passing extra Parmesan.

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