Try as I might, I couldn't find one thing wrong with last night's pasta dish. Inspired by another Nick Stellino recipe, this dish has an incredible amount of flavor for the small amount of effort involved in putting it together. Isn't that usually the way with a stellar pasta dinner?
Pancetta, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes are sauteed until the pancetta is starting to crisp, then the pan is deglazed with vermouth and topped with chicken stock and a walnut paste made of ground walnuts and cream. Once the sauce is reduced, gorgonzola and parmesan are added followed by the pasta. A few minutes in the pan is just enough time for the pasta to absorb the sauce and onto a plate it goes.
It is unbelievable - creamy, rich but not cloyingly so with a subtle bite from the gorgonzola and mellow nuttiness thanks to the walnuts. I dare say it would be fabulous without the pancetta, but on the other hand it would be great with pepper bacon too. If you're a blue cheese fan and like the flavor of gorgonzola, then for sure you're going to love this!
Pasta with Pancetta, Walnuts and Gorgonzola (adapted from Nick Stellino)
3/4 cup walnut halves, divided
1/2 cup cream
2 Tablespoons butter
4 ounces pancetta chopped into quarter inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white vermouth
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt as necessary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces farfalle, penne or fusilli pasta cooked till al dente
In food processor combine 1/2 cup walnut halves and cream and process until it is a thick paste. Set aside.
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt butter. Add pancetta and cook until bacon releases some of its fat (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook stirring often until bacon is beginning to crisp and onion is soft. Add coarse ground black pepper and vermouth. Cook for 30 seconds scraping the bottom of the pan, then add chicken stock and whisk in prepared walnut paste. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer until it reaches a sauce consistency. Whisk in the gorgonzola and parmesan and stir until the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt as necessary. Add cooked pasta and half the parsley. Simmer over low heat stirring constantly until pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Garnish with remaining parsley and remaining quarter cup of walnuts. Makes 4 generous servings. Download Pasta with Pancetta, Walnuts and Gorgonzola