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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Rigatoni with roasted walnut pesto and white wine mushroom cream sauce

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

For me, any pesto sauce is synonymous to Pinot Grigio wine. They just simply go together beautifully. Carlos’ Food & Wine has feature a few pesto dishes in previous postings…but I wanted to dwell more into why Pinot Grigio wines go well with pesto pairings.

Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, or Grauburgunder, is a white wine grape variety. Considered by many a mutant clone of the Pinot Noir variety, usually having a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name but the grapes can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance.

(Photo courtesy of CK Mondavi and Family)

The word pinot is said to have been given to it because the grapes grow in small pine cone-shaped clusters. The wines produced from this grape also vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink and is one of of the most popular type of grapes for skin-contact wine.

Wines made from the Pinot Grigio grape vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style they are from.

Today’s pairing features a Californian Pinot Grigio from CK Mondavi and Family where most Pinot Grigio wines from this state usually lean on the side of more light bodied with a crisp, with refreshing earthy and slight peppery tastes.

(Photo courtesy of CK Mondavi and Family)

Since pesto is an ancient sauce based on rudimentary ingredients consisting of olive oil, garlic, cheese, salt, herbs and sometimes nuts, only a light yet earthy soft (white) wine will allow for all these flavors to speak out in perfect harmony.


  • 1 box of rigatoni pasta

  • Sea salt

Pesto sauce:

  • 3/4 cups of roasted walnuts

  • 1/2 cup of extra Virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3/4 cups of grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 teaspoon of pepper

*To roast walnuts, simply place walnuts in a single layer on a frying pan set to low heat for about 5 minutes or just enough to lightly toast them.

Mushroom sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon of extra Virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

  • 1 small shallot, finely minced

  • 1 cup of fresh mushroom, sliced

  • 1/4 cup of white wine

  • 1/4 cup of cream


  • Fresh basil leaves (torn my hand)

  • Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano



  • In a blender, add roasted walnuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper.

  • Pour olive oil 1/4 cup at a time and blend. Add the rest of the oil and blend again.


  • Boil pasta according to instructions (recommend just cooking half of pasta package)

Mushroom sauce:

  • In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes.

  • Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Add white wine, stir and add cream. Stir again and reduce heat to low.

  • Add pesto to cream sauce, stir well and continue to keep pan on low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Once pasta is ready, drain and place on a deep mixing bowl. Pour enough pesto cream sauce on pasta to make sure pasta is coated, stir well.

Save some extra sauce to top pasta when serving.

Serve it up!

This delicius dish can be served both family style or individually.

For family style, place pasta in a large decorative serving bowl. Top with extra sauce, sprinkle fresh (hand-torn) basil leaves and dust lightly with extra Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese.

For individual plating, pasta can be served in individual deep bowls or flat plates. Also top with a little extra sauce, hand-torn basil leaves, and extra cheese.

Bon appetit! Enjoy!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

About the wine...

Special thanks to CK Mondavi & Family for providing this crisp and medium-bodied white wine. 2019 CK Mondavi & Family - Pinot Grigio (California)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Tasting notes: Aromas of wildflowers, peaches and pears. Fresh, tropical flavors combined with a touch of spice in this medium-bodied wine provide a lovely finish that is crisp and refreshing on the palate.

Grapes: 100% Pinot Grigio

Food pairing: Summer-centric dishes like seafood, chicken, salads, light pastas, cooked vegetables.


2017 Vintage - Gold

95 Points

California State Fair

2017 Vintage - Bronze

Highly Recommended

Tastings Worldwide Championships


Decorative wine drip collar by:

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)


(Photo courtesy of CK Mondavi and Family)

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