Nutty Penne & Ricotta Salata


  • 1-3/4 cups walnuts, halved
  • 4 lbs. sweet yellow onions (7-8 medium onions), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, separated
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 10 oz. whole-grain penne pasta
  • 1 lb. il Giardino® Ricotta Salata cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Toast walnuts in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from heat and cool. Pour walnuts into a zip-lock plastic bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Set aside.

In large frying pan over high heat, cook onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil with sugar and salt, stirring and turning often, until onions begin to release their juices and turn golden. Reduce heat to medium and cook 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions turn a caramel color and become quite sweet. If onions begin to stick to the pan or char during cooking, reduce heat.

When onions are nearly done, cook pasta al dente in boiling salted water. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water.

Toss caramelized onions with pasta, walnuts, il Giardino® Ricotta Salata cheese, parsley, reserved cooking water, lemon juice, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt. Serve hot.