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Vegetarian Pasta Recipes : Pansotti di Rapallo with Walnut Sauce

Updated on September 6, 2016

This recipe is called Pansotti di Rapallo con Salsa di Noci, a delicious vegetarian stuffed pasta dish with spinach and walnuts. 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, (click to find a recipe) and 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 infamous Portofino, the place where the 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 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.

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 are plenty. They should be served hot on a dish with the walnut sauce poured of them and then Parmesan cheese should be freshly grated over that.

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 linguini, 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.

This article 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
3 stars from 2 ratings of Pansotti di Rapallo


  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 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 pin nuts in a food processor and blend into a thick paste
  5. Add the cheese and a few dribbles of olive oil 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 large pinch of salt
  9. When the water is bubbling add the pansotti and boil until they are al dente
  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

Here's another delicious vegetarian Tomato Sauce Recipe that my grandmother taught me.

© 2013 Giovanna Sanguinetti

Do you enjoy making your own pasta and sauces? If so which is your favorite? Please leave a comment. Thank you for your visit.

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    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      That's great - Perhaps I should add that this isn't a quick recipe! Thanks very much for your visit and I hope you enjoy the Pansotti. Let me know.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 3 years ago from UK

      Yes I will have a go when I have a bit of time. I have never made my own pasta... could you cheat and buy some if necessary?

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      I'm sure you'd enjoy them! Are you going to have a go at making them? Do you make your own pasta? Thanks so much for your visit.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 3 years ago from UK

      Oh this sounds just delicious! I love walnuts and spinach and pasta and well all the ingredients ! Great recipe :)

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @Justillin: Thanks my family love it! Thanks very much for your visit and comment.

    • Justillin profile image

      Jill Hart 3 years ago from Weston, Idaho

      this looks terrific!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @Brite-Ideas: The secret is to let the machine do the hard work of kneading - fold the pasta several times and run it through the numbers without skipping one Also make it thin. Thanks for you visit.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      looks good! my friend makes wonderful pasta and sauces! mine is ok, but hers is better!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @Merrci: Hi Merry - it's quite delicious I'd say :) Thanks for your visit and comment

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Sounds really good! Love the photo too.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @smine27: If you take most of the peel off the walnuts you'll get a sweeter tasting sauce. I leave a few on just to give it a bit -1 out of 10 perhaps. Hope you enjoy it. It nice to try something that doesn't involve actual cooking. Thanks for your comment.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I have never heard of walnut sauce before. I am definitely going to try this.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @sousababy: Thanks - it is delicious - a blast into my childhood and the happy Christmases I spent with my parents. Thanks for you visit.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      Oh, I don't make my own pasta but definitely I do change up my sauces. Walnuts are quite healthy, what a great dish.