Weeknight Kitchen: Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Feb 20, 2013

Reposted from

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, Arugula & 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 paler pistachios, and I add no cream 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.

Serves 2 hungry people

8 ounces trottole verde or any curled pasta of choice (see above)
salt for pasta water, to taste
4 ounces Gorgonzola piccante, crumbled or chopped
4 cups baby or salad spinach leaves (packed)
freshly ground pepper, slightly coarser than regular if possible
3 tablespoons chopped shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts

Heat water in a pot for the pasta, salting it when it comes to a boil, then add the pasta and cook following the package 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 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 a scant 1/2 cup 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.

Reprinted from Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes copyright © 2012 by Nigella Lawson, Pabulum Productions Limited. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. Photographs © copyright 2012 by Petrina Tinslay.