What’s Nut Sauce?

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Nut sauce is a reduction made from roasted nuts, dry white wine, and spices. It is often used with pasta, chicken, and vegetables, and can include garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cream. The nuts are toasted and then blended with the other ingredients before being simmered and reduced.

Popular over pasta or chicken, nut sauce is a type of sauce made primarily from roasted nuts. Often made with dry white wine, nut sauce is created by roasting and grinding walnuts before adding spices and liquid elements. Nut sauce is normally considered a reduction, meaning the ingredients are simmered to about half their original volume. In addition to chicken and pasta, this sauce is also sometimes used in vegetable soups and as a creative topping for asparagus.

In addition to nuts and white wine, garlic, parsley or basil and Parmesan cheese are usually added. Cream, whipped cream, or milk is almost always included in the nut sauce, as is butter. Shallots, chili peppers or onions may also be included. At least one spice, such as cinnamon, rosemary or nutmeg, is generally found in most sauces.

Although dry white wine is usually used as the liquid base for this sauce, white wine vinegar or extra virgin olive oil is sometimes used. If the sauce goes perfectly with the chicken, chicken broth can be added for added flavoring. When using white wine, the alcohol is burned off during the reduction process, so the finished sauce is non-alcoholic. The flavor of the white wine, however, remains.

To make nut sauce, nuts are toasted or sauteed in a small amount of butter. Roasting nuts is a relatively quick process, taking just a few minutes. Cooks can determine when nuts are sufficiently roasted by both their golden color and their fragrant aroma. Toasting nuts can be tricky, however, as they can easily burn if not closely watched.

Nuts can be cut before or after roasting. Cutting can be done by hand or in a food processor. If chopping after roasting, the spices can be blended evenly and thoroughly by including them in the food processor with the nuts. Occasionally, a recipe suggests placing all the ingredients in the food processor to blend into a paste before cooking. Most recipes, however, don’t suggest this.

Once the nuts are roasted, garlic is often added and sauteed. If shallots, onions, or peppers are included, they are usually added as well, often with spices. Usually the wine, milk or cream is added and the sauce is allowed to simmer and reduced. Some recipes call for spices to be added after the sauce is reduced. These recipes usually allow the sauce to cook again once the spices are included.

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