Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti Recipe

Inspired by Mona Talbott's recipe in the new Coco cookbook, a pounded walnut pesto with marjoram and parsley, tossed with farro pasta and Pecorino cheese.

Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti

While shopping for holiday gifts this year, I fell into a trap. The "one for you, one for me" trap. Some of you might know it? Not behavior I'm particularly proud of, but it is what it is. For example, I bought Ad Hoc at Home as a gift, then bought the Coco book for myself. Casa Moro = gift, River Cottage Bread Handbook = me. Phaidon's huge Coco book surprised me. I thought it would be too restaurant-centric for my tastes, filled with recipes that wouldn't translate to my day to day cooking. But there I was, flipping through it, excited about many of the chefs who were highlighted within the 400+ pages - Mona Talbott, Skye Gyngell, and Amaryll Schwertner to name a few. And I've actually been cooking from it.

Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti Recipe

For those of you who haven't seen Coco, the premise is simple - ten culinary masters highlight one hundred contemporary chefs. The culinary masters are Gordon Ramsay, Ferran Adria, Alain Ducasse, Alice Waters, Rene Redzepi, Jacky Yu, Yoshihiro Murata, Fergus Henderson, Shannon Bennett, and Mario Batali. They, in turn, have selected one hundred of the best contemporary chefs working today. So, as you can imagine, there is a fascinating range of individuals highlighted here. There are chefs cooking not far from where I live, and others as far-fetched as Copenhagen, New York, Paris, Oslo, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Siena, and Singapore. You get a peek in each of their kitchens, and a selection of their recipes. It's fun to see all the different platings, and cooking styles ranging from simple and traditional to experimental.

Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti Recipe

Mona Talbott is the chef (and director) of the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome, and the pasta I'm highlighting today is hers. You make a pounded walnut pesto with marjoram and parsley, and toss it with farro pasta and Pecorino cheese. It's rustic, simple to make, and perfect this time of year. Each time I would flip to this recipe, I'd also notice her dried fava bean and chicory soup, and the chestnut flour cake with raisins and pine nuts. Both on the list of recipes to try from this book.

Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti Recipe

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I've been delighted with this not-so-little holiday present to myself. I so appreciate each of these chefs giving us a glimpse into their kitchens, and even if my cooking style isn't in line with many of them, I found something inspiring in each profile.

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Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti

Use a short pasta here, I happened to have a farro strozzapreti, which was great, the sauce got caught up in its little curls. In the book Mona uses a ruffled edge farro pizzichi.

3/4 cup / 3.5 oz / 100g walnuts
1 clove garlic, peeled, germ removed if garlic sprouted
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2/3 cup / 5oz / 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons marjoram, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup / 1 oz / 30 g pecorino Romano, grated
salt & pepper
1 pound / 16 oz / 460g short farro pasta

Start by heating a large pot of water, it will take a while for it to come to a boil.

In the meantime, toast the walnuts in a 350F / 175C degree oven until they are golden, 8-10 minutes. While still warm, wrap them in a clean dish towel and rub off the skins.

Place the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle, and pound to a fine paste. Add the walnuts to the mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. Alternately, you can do this in a food processor.

Transfer the nut mixture to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, then add most of the herbs. Stir in the pecorino, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Salt the pasta water generously, and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and reserve a big cup of the pasta water. Toss the walnut pesto with the pasta, and thin out the sauce with the reserved water. Serve topped with a sprinkling of the remaining herbs.

Serves 6.

This recipe was adapted from Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs by Editors of Phaidon Press. Published by Phaidon Press (November 16, 2009).

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 20 minutes

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Heidi, thanks so much for this simple but delicious recipe for this simple cook. I made it tonight after a long day and my husband and I inhaled it with mmm’s the whole way.


That looks amazing! I’ve been meaning to try a pasta + nut dish, this would be a wonderful place to start.

Jenn (j3nn.net)

This is fantastic. I tried mine with peanuts instead of walnuts, it was so delicious.

Abie Winfield

I made this tonight for me and my family with Spelt Rigatoni. It was lovely and we all enjoyed it, even my 3 1/2 year old who helped with the stirring of the pesto and the rubbing of the walnuts.
I really feel like it needs something more though, some top notes to balance the earthiness of the walnuts and marjoram. I was thinking about a little bit of chili or some lemon zest or juice.
What do others think?
Also does Mona Talbott have her own cookbook?


This sounds really great. It will be my first cooking adventure for the new year. I was just reading how nutritious walnuts are in the diet.

Selma Roth

one question, why do you not have your own restaurant??!! (come to brooklyn pleeease!)
This recipe is amazing. I made it for NYE for my friends before we went out and everyone loved it. simple, healthly and defintely a perfect pre-game dish 🙂 Thanks again for an awesome recipe!! I’m a faithful reader/101 cooker.


Sounds wonderful. Been thinking about pasta as a break from the holiday fare.
I’m curious about the farrow pasta, never tried before. One of my adventures today, I’m on the hunt for a store that carries farro pasta.

Family Cookbook - Denise

Modern trend of making Italian food is adding patan ghee instead of olive oil, it tastes really good. One of my friend from Duke Hotel, Rome gave me that suggestion and Strozzapreti really become delicious.

George gray

Hi Heidi! This dish looks delicious, I always cook strozzapreti and I’ll try this recipe! You mentioned the American Academy in Rome (which is where I live) and the name of the Chef; if you have time could you tell me something more about it please? Thank you Sabrina


One of the benefits of having a sister with an Italian food store (Mia Famiglia in Millburn, NJ) is that I have ready access to farro pasta. This was a delicious antidote to overloaded Christmas menus.


In Genova (Genoa) they use walnuts to make a delicious pasta sauce. It’s made milder by adding bread (crust removed)soaked in milk (and squeezed out). It’s then diluted with a fresh cheese called prescinsôea (but substitute greek yogurt). So it’s white and delicate. They pansoti with it (a triangular shaped ravioli filld with herbs, greens and cheese).


I made this pasta as a side dish for our Christmas Eve dinner. For variety, I also made a marinara and basil pesto, so folks could have choices to go with their pasta. Well, no one touched the other two choices; this was SOOOO good. I had my daughter smash the walnuts with a mortar and pestle as noted in the recipe and I think it must add to the taste. I’d highly recommend this recipe and will be sharing it with my friends.


Sounds good. Will try to make it soon.
Just made your Double Broccoli Quinoa and it came out fabulously. One questions though: Is it supposed to be eaten warm/hot or at room temperature.
Also, how long does ‘Post Your Comment” stay up after you put a recipe on line.

Janet Paula

That looks like such a tasty variation of some of the more herb-heavy pestos we’ve been cooking (arugula, basil, parsley). Looks just delicious.

small kitch cara

Wow! I was just pondering about how to consume more walnuts in my diet besides just eating them as they are…..awesome recipe….thank you!


wonderful recipie but I always preferred the name “Strangolapreti”. I first had these as a primi course at a banquet served in broth. Certainly better as fresh pasta.

Sean M

This looks nice, and I love walnut pesto. Can’t wait to try this.


It is sounds very delicious !


Sounds wonderful! I think I will make it tonight!!!


Well, that sounds good, as a poor cook I think I must try it. Happy holidayz to all.


a must try. happy holidays.


I’ve been wondering about this cookbook and am excited to see your favorable impressions. Thanks for treating yourself! Happy holidays!


Me too me too! LOL While I enjoy shopping for others, I always end up finding things for myself. Maybe that’s what I really enjoy. LOL
Coco sounds like a great book. I’m not too into celebrity chefs especially the ones on TV, but I like the idea of featuring rising star chefs from all over the world who are recognized by the master chefs. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Kitchen M

Very very nice. I was thinking pasta all morning… perfecto.

Tom Marsh

I enjoyed your finding out new cookbooks from your site. Happy holidays!!

Holly Hon

I’ve so been into interesting pasta shapes lately. These look beautiful and delicious. Good work as always.


Ah this reminds me of many a night working the pasta station at Oliveto in Oakland, CA.
We made a number of walnut (and basil) pesto dishes, not to mention countless strozzapretti pastas with meatballs, lamb and other hearty winter pastas veggie and otherwise. The pesto combination is a refreshing change of pace and the marjoram with farro I would think make for a nice Bay Area pasta this time of year when winter is on the milder side.
One tid bit I thought I’d share was on the origin of the name ‘strozzapretti’ translated roughly as ‘priest stranglers or priest chokers’. Apparently there are several origins, but two that I know of include references to 1) the thick ropes that priests wore around their waists and draped around their necks which the pasta resembles and 2) another legend has it that priests enjoyed this pasta so much that they ate too quickly and choked themselves. Judging by the photos and memory of how good this pasta can be, I can see why.
Thanks for the great post.
HS: Thanks for the awesome comment Adam 🙂


Got home from work… beat. Made this recipe… easy. And so good! Love the combination of the toasted walnuts and the marjoram. Thanks for making my night easy!


I’ve read about that book and have been wanting to buy it (or recieve it as a gift!)
I usually make walnut pesto with arugula, but I like the marjoram and parsely combination in this recipe. Now I’m hungry!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home

Beautiful, beautiful post, Heidi! I think it’s time for me to get that mortar and pestle out to make this! Looks and sounds absolutely delicious!
As a side note, I made your Walnut Miso Noodles Recipe for lunch about a week or so ago and everyone at my lunch table were as green with envy as the time I brought French Macarons in (which I shared with them). This time, I could not share with my lunch buddies, but I did let them know where the recipe came from.
HS: HI Kamran, I need to make those Walnut Noodles again soon. I have a stack of soba here feeling neglected lately.

kamran siddiqi

Confession to make, Mom got Subversive Crosstich (gotta love her), and I got your cookbook!
HS: Hi O., I hope you enjoy it!


I’m a long time fan, cook from both your cookbooks and follow your post consistently. Now I’m happy to know we have two things in common: taste in cookbooks and falling into the “one for me” trap. While holiday shopping for family last Friday, I spotted a copy of Coco, and (gasp) bought it for myself. It was so beautiful I could not pass up the last copy in the store. Seriously, it was ridiculously hard to resist rifling through it once I got home, as I want the element of “opening” it on Christmas. And now, seeing your recipe it is even harder not to rip off all the wrapping and take a peek or two. Keep up the great work! Heidi, happy holidays!
HS: Yeah, it was the flipping through it, that did it for me. You won’t be disappointed!


What a creative way to dress pasta. I often get stuck in the land of tomato-basil-sauce, so I’m eager to try this new recipe! Thanks, Heidi!


I would love to try this recipe, particularly since I don’t think I’ve used marjoram in my cooking before. But I’m a big fan of any kind of pesto so I’m sure I will enjoy this one.
Merry Christmas, Heidi.


Oh Heidi, this looks perfect. Cannot wait to try it. I will just make it gluten free. Happy, camper, here. Thanks again.

Beverly Jane

Wow, this sounds good. And yes, I’ve fallen victim just a bit to the one for you, one for me Christmas shopping bug!


I’m allergic to walnuts, of both black and “English” persuasion. But, surprisingly to most folks, not other tree nuts. Shouldn’t this be possible to make with pecans, pistachios, or pine nuts? These do not have a flavor as robust as do walnuts, but this sounds _so_ good, I intend to try it.

David Teague

I am all over this! Do you think it might work with pecans?
HS: I think it might be quite different. If you give it a go, report back!

Jamie G. Dougherty

I just love non-tomato alternatives for pasta, and this certainly is something entirely different for me in my kitchen. I bought pounds of organic walnuts some time ago and have them stored in my refrigerator and need to use them. I don’t have fancy pasta shapes, but a good sauce doesn’t need fancy shapes: it only needs good tasting pasta. Thanks for this interesting sauce!


Wonderfully rustic! I love the walnut pesto 🙂


I just picked up some strozzapreti from World Market this morning. Thanks for another great-sounding recipe!


While the recipe looks great, I think my favorite part is the ‘one for you, one for me’ line. Guilty as charged! But then that’s what makes it so much fun:)
I’m also excited to learn about the Rome Sustainable Food Project.
Thank you again for keeping our holidays unique and delicious!


I have some buckwheat pasta (from france) anyone have ideas about what to do with it?

fay b.

I’m definitely guilty of a similar shopping pattern, and now I want to go looking for Coco. The pesto looks fantastic.


oooh, Heidi. I’ve never tried farro pasta before and, actually, never knew it even existed! Going to have to do a little search (Rainbow, maybe?). Thanks for the lovely recipe!
HS: Now that you know to look for it, you’ll see it around Megan! Rainbow, A.G. Ferrari, Whole Foods, etc.

Megan Gordon

I thought for a moment you’d made that beautiful pasta…amidst shopping and holiday preparations! What a project that would be right now. I’ve never seen or heard of farro pasta but I’m sure a quick google search will help me out…

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

This looks delicious and your pictures are beyond making me drool!
I haven’t actually heard of this book before. But maybe I will take a look when I do my holiday shopping, *someone* might enjoy it?


How interesting you speak of cookbooks for xmas since I have asked for yours! Hope I get it!


Bonus points for this dish! I would serve this one up to the family in a heartbeat! I love the authenticity of using a motar for this recipe!

Jason Sandeman

This looks incredible! So unique.


I love, love, love walnut pesto!
I know it is not the most popular use for it, but once I added walnut pesto on top of spaetzle, and honestly… I thought I had died and gone to heaven
I will try this recipe, it’s a little different from the one I have


I love, love, love walnut pesto!
I know it is not the most popular use for it, but once I added walnut pesto on top of spaetzle, and honestly… I thought I had died and gone to heaven
I will try this recipe, it’s a little different from the one I have


I have never found a pesto I didn’t like. I can’tw ait to try this- thanks!


The walnut pesto is one of my favourites, it’s a great complement to rustic wholemeal pasta like this farro strozzapreti (=strangle-priests, in Italian, as you may know). The recipes you’re going to try just seem variations of two typical Italian dishes, fave e cicoria (pureed fava beans with chicory leaves), a classic from Apulia and Basilicata, and the Tuscan castagnaccio (chestnut flour cake with raisins and pinenuts… and rosemary leaves! – no sugar at all). Hope to read about them in your blog.


i love walnut pesto with just about…anything!


I was just eating at this fabulous restaurant in Vermont called The Alchemist and raving about their walnut, cranberry, goat cheese house salad. The walnuts really made the salad. Can’t wait to try out this walnut pasta!


Looks fantastic — and a perfect dish to make when you only have half an hour to get dinner together.
@arugulove — I’d guess the pasta comes from Rainbow. I’ve purchased farro pasta there before (although not in this particular shape).


Mmmm, marjoram is such a wonderful, underused herb. This sounds like a gorgeous way to highlight it.


that looks amazing, really craving pasta now. your almond soba noodles look so good, too. need to add those to my list of recipes to try soon, happy holidays!


Phaidon books are always so beautiful – I’m not surprised you succumbed!
Looking forward to trying this recipe out. I’ve been thinking about trying to make a more wintery, parsley pesto for a little while – this one’s a little bit more interesting with the marjoram and farro pasta


On the list to make SOON.


This looks like such a good winter meal, can’t wait to try it sometime in January!


Love the idea of marjoram in pesto. That could even make a good sauce for pizza or flatbread.

Lentil Breakdown

Heidi, this post highlights a significant detail that I appreciate dearly about your blog: the practicality of your recipes in day-to-day cooking. I’ve run into the book recently, and I’m pleased to see you recommend it. This is an excellent recipe to present a peak into the quality of dishes and stories collected in this book. Thank you!

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

You have given us many gifts this season – you certainly deserve a few for yourself. Thank you Heidi, for this latest, and all the others I have enjoyed this year. Happy Holidays to you and yours…
xo Michaela

The Gardener's Eden

wonderful…. thanks for sharing it, can’t wait to try.


Oh, it looks beautiful! And it sounds flavorful and delicious—love the combo of nuts and cheese. I’ve never had farro pasta before!


Oh wow, I’m so impressed! This looks wonderful!

Simply Life

Farro pasta!
I bet toasted breadcrumbs would be a great substitute for the parm to make this vegan. Thanks so much for sharing! That’s making me hungry! Anna


I can’t wait to try this! There is this charming Italian restaurant where I use to live that serves up a pasta with walnuts in it. It’s so good! I’ve tried to replicate the dish and I’ve come close enough to satifsy until I return their.


I love the use of nuts with pasta. The pesto like sauce you made looks great. Strozzapreti are hard to get here but I am sure that Fussili will do the job too.

tobias cooks!

This dish looks amazing!! So comforting!
I love the shape of the pasta too!

Weekly Bite

I’ve been wanting to try this walnut pesto-type sauce – thanks for the reminder. It sound really delicious


Thit is wonderful timing we were talking about the joys of walnut pesto over lunch and another conversation was about farro pasta, then I arrive here. I suppose It’s not very interesting for anyone else but this post feels like a message just for me. I live in Rome and I’m fortunate to have eaten Mona’s Food at the Academy, she is a just wonderful and inspiring chef, as is her food.


Sounds great, I have been playing around with walnut sauces and this one looks like a great one to try!

christie @ honoring health

This looks really, really good. I make a different marjoram pesto and it is one of my favorites, so I’m really curious to try this take.
Where did you buy the pasta? I’m in your neck of the woods, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen farro pasta. And that shape is one of my favorite pasta shapes so I’d love to buy some.
HS: I’m pretty sure I picked up this particular farro pasta at A.G. Ferrari in the Castro.


Looks delicious! Thanks for another great one!


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