Pasta is one of the great unifiers of the world. While some might not be able to eat pasta for health reasons, I’ve never come across anyone who didn’t like pasta. It’s one food that can be made to expensive tastes or to cheap ones. It’s good just with salt and pepper and cheese, but equally lavish smothered in a rich cream sauce. And, for throwing together a flavorful meal nothing beats pasta for both speed and taste.
Since so many of our favorite quick meals rely on pasta, when this recipe came across my screen I was instantly intrigued. Julia Child is remembered by many as the eccentric TV chef who brought European cooking to the American audience, often lending a sense of the achievable to somewhat complicated dishes. But, her Spaghetti Marco Polo recipe actually couldn’t be easier.
Despite how quick and easy this recipe is to pull together, it tastes deep and rich thanks to the toasted walnuts, black olives, herbs, and a generous dousing of parmesan cheese.
To begin making this recipe start by making your spaghetti noodles to the package directions. Then toast your walnuts in a pan on the stove. This is an extra step but it only takes about 3 minutes. You could substitute almonds or pine nuts instead if that’s what you have on hand.
Set the toasted nuts aside and begin making the rest of the sauce for the pasta, chopping the nuts just before adding them to the mix. This recipe, unlike many pasta dishes, contains no tomatoes. Instead a chunky dressing of fresh herbs (chopped), canned roasted red peppers (drained), the aforementioned walnuts, and 4 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil creates a flavorful combination.
Once the the pasta is drained sauté 4 cloves of garlic in the olive oil and then add the spaghetti to the skillet. Combine the pasta with the sauce in a large bowl and top with the cheese. Toss to combine and this dinner is done. From start to finish you can have an impressive meal in the table in about half an hour.
This is perhaps one of Julia Child’s easiest recipes. However, the fresh herbs, tangy olives, and crunchy nuts combine to make a really vibrant dish that tastes anything but simple.
Julia Child’s Spaghetti Marco Polo
15m prep time
17m cook time
- 1/2 lb spaghetti pasta
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups parmesan cheese
- Cook and drain pasta to package directions. While pasta is cooking toast the walnuts over medium for about 2-3 minutes or until one shade darker than you started with. Remove walnuts from heat.
- Chop walnuts and combine them in a medium bowl with olives, red peppers, parsley, and basil.
- In a large saucepan cook garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes, but do not brown. Turn off heat and add pasta to the pan. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and top with nut mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and toss to combine.
Recipe adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen.