It’s national cheese week and to celebrate I’m going to use one of my favourite cheeses Gorgonzola. Beautiful soft Italian cows milk cheese with a blue vein that has a distinctive and acidic bite. This distinctively flavoured cheese has been made in the town of Gorgonzola ( a province of Milan) and used in cooking since AD 879 but its blue-green veins were not introduced until the eleventh century. Gorgonzola is a very versatile cheese to cook with I love it crumbled into salad and dressed with walnut oil, served with figs or pear or even toasted ala Welsh rarebit style. Today’s recipe is a quick and easy supper, rich and oozing with Gorgonzola packed flavour.
Penne with Gorgonzola
12oz Penne ( based on 3oz person)
6 inches of smoked pancetta cubed ( lardons, bacon would be fine too ) (optional)
8 chestnut mushrooms thinly sliced (optional)
3 cloves of garlic crushed
150g good Gorgonzola cheese
2 cups of pasta water
Ground black pepper ( according to taste)
1 teaspoon of salt for the pasta
1 glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Bring a pan of boiling water to the boil add the salt and then stir. Add the Penne to the swirling salted water and cook on a medium heat until al dente. In a heavy based frying pan heat the olive oil and then add the garlic, pancetta (optional) and mushroom ( optional) fry gently until the pancetta is just golden and the mushrooms have lost all of their water. Before you drain the penne, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and add to the saucepan with the pancetta, mushrooms and garlic and then crumble the 150g of Gorgonzola into the mixture and stir. The cheese will melt and form a velvety texture. Drain the penne and pour into the sauce and combine. Put into pasta bowls to serve and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few good twists of freshly milled pepper. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.