Deborah Madison’s cookbooks are mainstays of any dedicated home cook’s kitchen library. Her wonderfully accessible, homey and nourishing fare is perfect for weekdays and dinner parties alike. Grab six simple ingredients and make this creamy pasta with gorgonzola.
Roseanna, my neighbor in Rome, frequently made this dish (with fresh pasta) for her husband when he came home for lunch. Lunch at home? Fresh pasta? On an ordinary weekday? That, to us, seems extraordinary!
Dried or fresh, this pasta is extraordinary, too, especially if you love blue cheese and cream. Plus there’s a secret ease to its preparation: a bowl warms on top of the heating pasta water, and the heat melts the butter, softens the cheese, and spreads the flavor of the garlic throughout both. Cooked pasta goes in, is tossed, and served. That’s it.
This past holiday season, as I stood staring at an unused chunk of Gorgonzola, some very good butter, and the remains of a half-pint carton of cream, I realized that I hadn’t made this in years. Of course, I hadn’t. It’s super rich, filled with dairy, and made with white pasta that probably has no virtue other than its blandness or delicacy, depending. I decided to make it. It was the end of the holiday season, and we had had a chaste vegetarian Christmas. So I used up all those rich and creamy odds and ends, and we had a small portion each plus a salad. It was so insanely good, I plan to do it again next year. Although I have cut the portions of everything down in this version, it is still rich. Follow it with a good green salad.
This dish was originally in The Savory Way, which I wrote after returning from a year in Rome and moving to, of all places, Flagstaff, Arizona. At that time, I had to bring back the cheese (along with olive oil and good pasta) when making emergency food trips to the Bay Area. Now you can probably find those ingredients not only in Flagstaff, but pretty much anywhere.
- 6 ounces dried pasta, whatever shape you like best, or fettuccine
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled in large pieces
- 2 tablespoons your best butter, cut in pieces
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cream
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, to grate over all
For the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. While it is heating, set a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta over the pot and add the garlic, cheese, butter, and cream. As the water heats, everything will become warm and soft.
Remove the bowl when the water comes to a boil. Add plenty of salt to the pot, then the pasta, and give it stir. Cook until the pasta is as done as you like it, then scoop it out and add it directly to the bowl. The heat of the pasta will melt any lumps of cheese that haven’t melted yet.
Toss everything together with freshly cracked pepper, and transfer to warm pasta plates. Grate a little Parmigiano-Reggiano over each plate and serve.