Green Pasta with Blue Cheese
I know this sounds like a Dr Seuss recipe (only without the elastic scansion) but it is, as the Italians say, “sul serio”, no joke. The green factor is not crucial, but since this came about because I happened upon some spinach-dyed stubby coils of trottole – the pasta shape named after its supposed resemblance (I don’t see it) to a spinning top – it feels right to me. Serendipity is only part of the story: I have also always had a thing about pasta and blue cheese, both separately and in conjunction. This recipe is in many ways an evolution of the Pasta with Gorgonzola, Rocket and Pine Nuts in my Quick Collection app, and indeed you could make any sort of mishmash of the two. The major developments here are that I felt the need – or rather a fancy – to sprinkle the deep green of the pasta with the palerpistachios, and I add no crème fraîche or mascarpone (as I used to) since a little pasta cooking water, whisked into the cheese, makes it as creamy as you could wish for. This is not a dietary stance, but because the starchy water doesn’t mute the palate-rasping piquancy of the Gorgonzola. If you can’t find trottole or, indeed, radiatori, which have a similarly corrugated form, do not despair. While I love the way the scant but fierce sauce cleaves to the shape, you do get some of that effect with the curl of fusilli.
- 250g trottole verde or any curled pasta of choice (see above)
- salt for pasta water, to taste
- 125g Gorgonzola piccante, crumbled or chopped
- 100g baby or salad spinach leaves
- Freshly ground pepper, slightly coarser than regular if possible
- 3 x 15ml tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
Heat water in a pan for the pasta, salting it when it comes to the boil, then add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, but checking 3 minutes before it’s meant to be done. This needs to be really al dente because it will carry on cooking as you make the sauce.
Before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of pasta-cooking liquid, then tip the drained pasta back in the hot pan with 2 tablespoonfuls of the liquid, the crumbled cheese and the baby spinach, and give a good grinding of coarse black pepper. Put the lid on the pan – off the heat, though back on the stove – and leave to stand for 2 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn the heat back on low, and stir the pasta, cheese and spinach together, along with as much of the cupful of cooking liquid as you need – I find 100ml total is about right – until the cheese is melted into a light sauce and the spinach wilted.
Take off the heat, toss with about two-thirds of the chopped pistachios and divide between 2 warmed bowls, sprinkling each bowl with the remaining nuts. Serve immediately.