I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Gorgonzola for some time. I’ve never been hugely keen on blue cheeses but, my tastes have evolved after much charcuterie board sampling. When not served in excess, I realized that Gorgonzola can be kind of amazing and not mouth-sore inducingly sharp!
My Italian roommate Jasmine has been doing the grocery shopping this past week while I’ve been in quarantine. That said, she picked up a lovely hunk of Gorgonzola and decided we should make a stick-to-your-ribs pasta sauce with it. Remembering that I packed an abundance of extra-strength Lactaid, I quickly obliged. Pulling pots and pans out of our cabinets, we got to work.
Cooking together with someone is a beautiful thing. Though we are still trying to find a balance, I think this is the start of a fun culinary experience… even if I am slightly terrified of making a complete cooking mockery of myself in front of my Milan-native roommate.
Which brings me to this set of questions...Do you salt your pasta water? What about adding a drizzle of olive oil? Both? Neither? I tend to do both, but I’ve heard different opinions among my Italian friends and Jasmine. And let’s face it, if they can’t agree on proper pasta water etiquette, who can you trust on these matters?!
But back to our pasta. A quick lunchtime creation, this Gorgonzola pasta was super simple and can be modified based on how much cheese you would like to add. The one thing I will say is that this particular Gorgonzola that we used was quite creamy, so it was very easy to melt and work with. In doing some research, I discovered that what my roommate had picked up at the grocery store was actually a Gorgonzola Dolce, a softer, sweeter and fresh variation in comparison to the sharper, aged Gorgonzola Piccante.
Because my first week of online classes has been heavily focused on food labelling laws, I was excited to discover that under EU law Gorgonzola has D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) status, meaning that real Gorgonzola can only be made in select zones of Northern Italy, mainly in Piedmont and Lombardy. These indications shed light on not only a product’s source but also speak to the quality of the product and how it was made. You’re probably wondering why this is exciting and let me explain. In speaking of geographical indications and protected designation of origins non-stop in class, it’s cool to finally see D.O.P.s in my everyday life… a rarity not common back home in North America.
Anyways, once our gorgonzola began melting away over a low flame, we had the big dilemma over which pasta to cook alongside it. We ended up opting for mezze maniche rigate, which is similar to rigatoni but shorter in length by about half! Remember that a pasta with grooves (something labelled rigate instead of lisce) works the best with a sauce like this because the grooves trap sauce, leading to a more flavourful bite!
Without further adieu, I present you with the following super simple recipe. Leave it to the Italians and their fresh ingredients and simple technique to create a knockout dish with next to nothing!
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Gorgonzola-Coated Mezze Maniche
*Makes 2 servings*
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup (250 grams) Gorgonzola D.O.P.
1 cup of pasta water
1 cup pasta (We used mezze maniche)
Salt and pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Drizzle in some olive oil as well to keep pasta from sticking. Toss in your pasta of choice.
While pasta is cooking, in a pan melt butter and fry garlic until fragrant.
Stir in gorgonzola over low heat, ensuring not to burn.
Slowly begin stirring in pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Stir until pasta is well coated.
Serve with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano and enjoy!
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Do you salt your pasta water? What about adding a drizzle of olive oil? Both? Neither? Let's settle this once and for all in the comments!