Essay About Vegetarian Pasta Recipes: Pansotti With Walnut Sauce

This recipe is called Pansotti di Rapallo con Salsa di Noci, a delicious vegetarian pasta dish stuffed with spinach and covered in walnut sauce. The literal translation is ‘Big Bellies of Rapallo with Walnut Sauce’.

My parents came from two small fishing villages situated on either side of Genoa, a wonderful city situated on the Ligurian sea-coast, in northern Italy.

Genoa is a beautiful city that is rich in music, architecture, art, history, and of course gastronomy.

Being a seaside city, it has many wonderful fish and seafood dishes, but it is also famous for its delicious vegetarian dishes such as Pesto Sauce, and delicious vegetarian pasta recipes abound!

Castello di Rapallo

Rapallo is where my mother was born and it is where I spent my summers as a child. It is very near to the famous Portofino and Cinque Terre, places where the very rich and famous moor their yachts.

Rapallo has grown into a sizable town now of about 30,000 inhabitants, I recently visited it and was extremely surprised to see how many new houses have been built up the sides of the mountains that form a beautiful backdrop to Rapallo.

But the Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea), which was built in 1551 to counter the frequent pirate attacks, is still there, and it includes a small chapel dedicated to St. Cajetan, built in 1688. My mother remembered that when she was a child the castle was used as a prison and my grandmother used to give food to the prisoners through the bars.

I remember learning to swim in the shade that the little castle cast on the beach. Such sweet memories.

The Recipe

And of course I also remember the delicious food. Pansotti di Rapallo con Salsa di Noci were what my granny cooked for us on special occasions.

They are called ‘ big bellies’ because they should be big, and they are typically served as an entrée, so 3 or 4 per person is plenty. They should be served piping hot on a dish with the walnut sauce poured over them and then parmesan cheese freshly grated over that, you could also add a little black pepper.

They are made with homemade pasta and here’s a review I have written that explains how simple it is to make delicious pasta using a pasta machine. These machines are not expensive and nor is the pasta difficult to make. It’s a little time consuming but well worth the effort.

The machine can be used to make fresh linguine, ravioli, lasagne, and spaghetti too. All of these use the same dough, and if you add a bit of spinach or tomato, you can even make the wonderful colored pasta that looks and tastes so great. I have included a link to one here.

The rest of this Hub explains how to make the filling and the salsa di noce. As far as vegetarian pasta recipes go, this is one of my favorites and it is traditionally eaten at special occasions. Prep time: 1 hour; Cook time: 10 min; Ready in: 1 hour 10 min; Yields: makes 8.


  • Walnut Sauce:
  • Half a pound of peeled walnuts. They don’t have to be whole, but they must not be crushed.
  • Half a clove of fresh peeled garlic
  • A third of a cup of pine nuts optional
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Half a cup of ricotta cheese ( or any mild cream cheese)
  • A dribble of Olive Oil
  • A little hot water
  • Finely chopped parsley (optional)
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach squeezed very dry
  • 1 cup of cooked chard or any greens squeezed very dry
  • Half a cup ricotta cheese or any mild cream cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • half a teaspoon salt


  1. Once you have made your pasta, and put it through a pasta machine to make your pasta sheets, cut out rounds about the size of an espresso coffee cup saucer
  2. To make the filling: Finely chop the greens and boil. Leave to cool and squeeze until they are very dry
  3. Place them in a bowl and add the cheese, salt, and eggs and mix well until all the ingredients have blended well. Keep cool in the fridge
  4. To make the walnut sauce: Put the walnuts, salt, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and blend into a thick paste. The walnuts will be easier to peel if you soak them in warm water for a few minutes. Try to remove as much of the peel as possible because it is bitter.
  5. Add the cheese and a few dribbles of olive oil and blend a little more until you get a really nice creamy smooth sauce
  6. To make the pansotti: Put about a tablespoon of filling on each round of pasta. Dampen the edge of the round with water and fold in half. Squeeze the edges together with a fork to seal it
  7. Put them on a well-floured surface until your ready to boil them
  8. Fill a very large saucepan with water and a teaspoon of salt
  9. When the water is bubbling, reduce the heat a little carefully add the pansotti making sure they don’t tear or stick to each other. Gently boil until they are soft but not too soft.
  10. Put a couple of tablespoons of the water into the walnut sauce and stir
  11. Drain the pansotti and toss them in the sauce
  12. Arrange about 4 on a plate, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pepper and serve immediately