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How to make Spaghetti alla Fornaia

Photo:  Lorenzo’s Pasta Fornaia.  Joining us on this trip is our daughter Erica and her partner Drew (taking the photo). Next to Erica is my cousin Andrea, wife, Cristina and twins, Roberto, Ricardo, Lorenzo, Charlie and me.


The Baker’s Spaghetti 

Why the association of bakers to this pasta I have not been able to find out. However, I first had the best version of this simple dish a few years ago when visiting my relatives in Montefollonico, the little town where my Grandparents and my Dad and Uncle were born. A 4th generation of “Sandroni” relatives live there now but as we’ve been in touch over the years and visited often, they couldn’t have become any closer. My favorite part of any trip to Italy is my visit with them. They are a wonderful family and when I sadly leave them it is with a heartful of love and some great recipes. 


Serving: Serves 3-4


  • 1 ½ cups (5 oz) walnuts –  not fresh
  • ½ – ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 tb fresh Italian parsley – chopped (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves – or more to taste
  • 3 oz breadcrumbs – dry or stale
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • a few fresh basil leaves – for garnish



  1. Chop the nuts and the garlic finely with a knife or pulse several times in a small food processor. 
  2. In a skillet over low heat, warm about half of the olive oil. 
  3. Add the nuts, garlic and breadcrumbs and fry until the garlic is just about golden – 4 or 5 minutes. Season to taste with a little salt. 
  4. In the meantime, bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Just before adding the spaghetti add a good amount of salt to the water and stir. 
  5. Add the spaghetti and cook stirring just until al dente. Drain and pour into your serving bowl, saving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  6. Return the drained pasta to the pot, add about ½ of the pasta water and let the pasta cook over low heat as you keep tossing it and adding enough water to get a creamy sauce.  
  7. Add some of the remaining oil together with the nut/breadcrumb sauce to the spaghetti and toss well to get it well combined. Add more oil as necessary. Sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve.  


NOTE: Pass some fresh basil to tear up and scatter over the spaghetti. Torn basil adds a whole new flavor. Also have some grated cheese available for extra sprinkling. 

Lorenzo making Spaghetti alla Fornaia

Lorenzo, the oldest of their 3 boys is now a doctor dividing his time in hospitals in Arezzo and Siena. On this visit he is showing us his culinary specialty with his version of this breadcrumb dish.






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