Rich & Easy: Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnuts

25 Apr

To herald the return of my taste buds I went for big flavours and more than a little decadence (620 cal per serving with 28 grams of total fat). My hope is the powerhouse nutrients of the spinach and a glass of red wine offset some of the cholesterol issues (80 mg per serving)!

Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Unfortunately my energy levels were slower to bounce back, so I selected a super fast recipe. Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnuts is another from Fine Cooking’s Make it Tonight (Taunton Press, 2012; pg 131). Twenty-five to thirty minutes, tops will get your supper on the table if you follow the plan set out in the Instructions.

Five simple ingredients: penne, walnuts, whipping cream, spinach and Gorgonzola cheese.

Five simple ingredients: penne, walnuts, whipping cream, spinach and Gorgonzola cheese.

Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Walnuts                         Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz/ 113g (5 lightly pkd cups/1.18 L)     fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/8 cup + /30 mL +                                    coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 6 oz/170 g (1.75 cups/415 mL)                 dried penne
  • 3/8 cup/ 90 mL                                           heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1.25 oz (1/4 cup/ 30 mL)                           crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • to taste                                                           freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5 Tbsp/25 mL                                            thinly sliced fresh chives

Instructions:

1.     Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Set a large pot of (salted) water on a burner to boil.

2.      Put chopped walnuts on a baking sheet or metal pie pan and roast them in the oven, stirring or tossing frequently, until they are golden brown — about 6 minutes. Set aside.

3.     Meanwhile cook the penne over medium-high heat until al dente (according to the package directions). Mine took about 8 minutes.

4.     While pasta cooks, wash the spinach leaves and allow to drain in a heat-proof colander. Set aside.

Over Med-High heat, melt cheese in cream with some pepper.

Over Med-High heat, melt cheese in cream with some pepper.

5.      Crumble the cheese and measure out the whipping cream. Place them in a medium-sized skillet with 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and a pinch of salt. Over medium-high heat, melt the cheese in the cream. Cook, stirring, until the cream thickens, about 2 – 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.

Cook, stirring, for 2 - 3 minutes to thicken

Cook, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes to thicken

6.     Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the penne over the spinach in the colander. Then add the pasta, wilted spinach, 1 Tbsp of the toasted walnuts and 2 teaspoons of the sliced chives to the skillet with the cream.

Drain pasta over spinach in colander

Drain pasta over spinach in colander

7.     Stir all ingredients together in the skillet, cooking about 2 more minutes until some of the sauce absorbs into the penne. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if the results are not saucy enough. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add pasta, spinach, some of the walnuts and chives. reduce heat to medium and cook 2 - 3 minutes, stirring to combine.

Add pasta, spinach, some of the walnuts and chives. reduce heat to medium and cook 2 – 3 minutes, stirring to combine.

Serve in pasta bowls, topped with the remaining toasted walnuts and chives. A great glass of Valpolicella Ripasso had enough body to balance the creamy, tangy sauce and the richness of the toasted walnuts.

Serve topped with more walnuts and chives. Enjoy with a juice, well-bodied red . . . and some wine, too.

Serve topped with more walnuts and chives. Enjoy with a juice, well-bodied red . . . and some wine, too.

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