Since we last talked, a couple of things have happened. One, I spent a super long, super luxurious weekend in Texas with my family. It was filled with fun, food, and wonderful people. And warm weather. It was lovely.
I also had surgery this week and am down an organ since the last time I wrote. This being a food blog, I won't go into any more detail, because personally I don't think the words gallbladder and gorgonzola cream sauce belong anywhere near each other. Except for just then. Sorry. So anyway, I've been recovering all weekend, which means when I'm awake I'm bored out of my mind because I'm basically tethered to my couch, only able to walk in a very hunched, very slow manner, and when I'm asleep, I'm, well, very asleep.
I'll be fine, better, even, as soon as I can stand upright. Until then I'm laying low, cooking light, clean, easy dishes, and enjoying my air conditioning and my snuggly kitten. And also telling you about a couple of delicious meals, like this one! Gorgonzola cream sauce. Pasta. All of these things I love.
Start by melting some butter in a skillet.
Then mince some garlic and throw it into the butter, letting it cook for about a minute, until fragrant.
After the garlic cooks for about a minute, add some flour and whisk constantly until it forms a roux. Then add some chicken stock slowly, whisking constantly, until it is completely incorporated.
Next add some half and half and whisk until incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, until it can coat the back of a spoon.
Season with salt, pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper. Whisk to incorporate and then add 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola and whisk until melted. Turn the heat down low and whisk occasionally, while the pasta is boiling.
Boil your pasta, by the way! Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and add penne. Cook until al dente, then drain and return to the pot. Pour gorgonzola cream sauce on top of the pasta and toss to combine, until all the penne is coated in the sauce.
Now, up until now this dish was based on a dish I had years ago in Italy. It was spaghetti with a gorgonzola cream sauce and it was rich, decadent, and wonderful. When I was remembering that dish, I remembered something crunchy, a nice textural contrast against the creamy sauce. That in mind, I decided to bake this and hopefully get some crunchy bits on top.
I dotted the top with some added crumbles of gorgonzola then topped it with grated Parmesan cheese.
I put that in the oven and baked it until the cheese was slightly browned and completely melted and bubbly.
Then I served this very simply, with Parmesan cheese on top.
Now, let me tell you something. This was absolutely divine. It was creamy and rich and comforting, with a nice little bite from the gorgonzola. Like a grown up mac and cheese.
The penne is enveloped in the velvety sauce yet while the top layer of pasta and cheese did get nicely toasted, I still wanted more crunch, more contrast. Then it hit me--the crunch from the pasta in Florence wasn't from a baking dish or even breadcrumbs. It was pistachios! Salty, fruity, perfect little green crunchy pistachios. And naturally I only remembered this halfway through my bowl.
So when I do this again, and believe me I will, I will skip the baking altogether and garnish the top with chopped pistachios. As is, however, it was delicious and decadent, and almost just how I remembered it being.
Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with gorgonzola cheese, and this pasta is no exception. Pair with grilled shrimp or chicken for a little protein, or eat it plain, just like I did. Try it with the chopped pistachios and let me know how it goes, because from what I remember, it's the perfect addition.
And as for me, I'll be hobbling around, doing my thing, getting better. Don't you worry about me!
Here's the recipe!
Baked Penne in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup fat free half and half (you can use cream if you want)
- 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus more to taste
- salt and pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- **Chopped pistachios, optional
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, according to package instructions, to al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking dish with foil.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until it forms a smooth roux. Slowly add chicken stock, whisking constantly so no lumps form. Let cook for one minute until slightly thickened. Add half and half and whisk to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes. Add gorgonzola cheese and whisk until smooth.
- Pour gorgonzola cream sauce over the drained pasta and toss to combine. You can serve this as is, with chopped pistachios on top, or you can bake it, like I did, in which case, please continue.
- Transfer pasta to prepared baking dish and dot with additional gorgonzola cheese. Top with grated Parmesan and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is starting to brown. Serve in bowls with added Parmesan and black pepper on top.