Penne Pasta with Blue Cheese and Walnuts Recipe

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the pasta
  • 12 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and toss with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together, and cover to keep warm. Heat the 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the cheese. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Pour the melted cheese over the pasta, sprinkle with the walnuts and basil, and toss well. Serve immediately.

This is a rich-tasting but fairly light pasta dish, because it lets the cheese make its own sauce. With any interesting sauce, we like to use the tube pasta, such as penne or ziti, which lets the sauce get inside. A ridged pasta such as rigatoni holds sauce well but might be too big and chewy for this subtle sauce. In a pinch, any pasta will do. For the blue cheese, your best choices are Danish blue, Maytag blue, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola. If you use either of the latter two, make sure they're young and firm, since they get stronger as they age, and heating makes flavors stronger still; you don't want this dish to be overwhelmingly pungent. To make this pasta go further, or if you're feeding an especially hungry crowd, you can sauté some spinach and/or chicken in a little garlicky oil and toss it in at the end.

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