Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Gorgonzola-Walnut Sauce

Feast your eyes on this photo, will you? A dreamy, creamy Gorgonzola-toasted walnut-rosemary sauce clinging to a perfectly cooked al dente pasta. Can it get any better than this?

If this recipe is indicative of the other 49 in a great little cookbook entitled 50 Great Pasta Sauces, then yes, it can, and will, get at least as good if not better.
This book was recently sent to me by its publisher, Andrews McMeel, with the hope that I would review it and post it on this blog. After careful review, last night I made the first of what will be many sauces that I'll make from this little gem of a book by Pamela Sheldon Johns.

A small book, just 6 3/4" square, 50 Great Pasta Sauces fits nicely on my book stand. Each of the 50 recipes, divided into four categories entitled Vegetable, Dairy, Meat, and Seafood sauces, is printed on a single page with a beautiful, color photo opposite. Ms. Johns, a prolific Italian cookbook writer who lives in Tuscany, keeps the sauces simple, clean and direct.
A few of the meat sauces are a bit complex in their ingredients, such as the Duck Sauce, where one would skin and de-bone a duck then grind the meat in preparation for beginning to make the sauce. Or the wild boar sauce, wherein one must find a wild boar to begin with, which could entail going hunting. That recipe looks so good though that I think I'll find a suitable substitute for the wild boar so I can make the sauce. (Or maybe son Josh will go a-hunting?)

And although all the sauces in this book are served over myriad shapes of lovely pastas, I wouldn't be married to that tradition. Any number of roasted, mashed or sauteed vegetables could suffice as a base if you, like me, prefer to keep your intake of starchy carbohydrates to a minimum.
Like many cooks, I usually look at a recipe then change it, either to suit my pantry, eating lifestyle or whimsy. Because I had just barely 5 ounces of Gorgonzola in my cheese drawer, I rounded out the 6 ounces called for in the recipe with my favorite blue cheese, Pt. Reyes Original Blue. Then, because the sauce wasn't thick enough, I added 2 ounces more, which made it perfect. I also used 2% milk instead of the full-fat stated in the recipe, which is probably why I needed to add more cheese.
Gorgonzola-Walnut Sauce
Adapted from 50 Great Pasta Sauces by Pamela Sheldon Johns
Serves 4
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
6 ounces Gorgonzola (I used 5 oz Gorgonzola plus 4 oz Pt. Reyes Original Blue)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped, 1 tablespoon reserved
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 pound dried pasta
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium heat. Add the cheeses and simmer, stirring until melted. Add the walnuts, reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish, and the rosemary, stirring to combine.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and transfer to warmed individual serving plates. Spoon the cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts. Serve Immediately.