My love for blue cheese sauce began in 2003, a few days after I’d started my semester in Perugia, Italy. Our kitchen was still fairly bare, so my roommate and I opted for dinner at a ristorante, and I ordered the gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce (I didn’t have much experience with gnocchi at that point either). And OH MY GOD… it was so good. So simple, but so enchanting. Happiness on a plate. Shortly thereafter, I found a recipe for it in an English-language Italian cookbook in the library at my study-abroad school, the Umbra Institute. Yay! The book states that it’s not a traditional sauce, which probably explains why it’s not the kind of thing you find at every single Italian restaurant (unlike spaghetti bolognese or something).
It’s simple but still somehow impressive. I’ve made it for my isa for Father’s Day, and when I was living in Tartu and met a guy who was obsessed with blue cheese, I just had to make it for him too.
The accompaniment of smoked salmon is an idea stolen from the now-defunct ZumZum, which used to reside on Küüni street in Tartu (it’s been replaced by a place called… Place. Seriously). Anyway, I once ordered their blue cheese pasta for a late-night dinner, and despite the fact that their sauce wasn’t flavorful enough, the surprising smoked salmon paired with it deliciously. Somehow the smooth saltiness of the fish and the rich tanginess of the sauce just work.
I’d been wanting to make it again for a while, but since it is so indulgent, I felt I needed a reason to make it (not to mention a dinner partner to help me eat it). Last weekend I was fortunate enough to find myself in the company of the most blue-cheese-loving and appreciative audience to my cooking, so it seemed like the perfect time. So I cooked. We ate. It was delicious.
The recipe is so incredibly simple—just a few ingredients and a short cooking time—but it’s not the kind of thing you can make every day because it’s extremely rich. The recipe specifies gorgonzola, but I’ve made it with all kinds of blue cheeses. You just want to make sure you have a cheese with decent flavor, since it is the main ingredient in the sauce. It goes well with small, textured pasta (penne, farfalle, orrechiette), but I like it best with potato gnocchi.
Blue cheese sauce for pasta (adapted from a book called The Food of Italy; I don’t know the author)
For four servings, melt 15 g (1/2 oz) butter in a saucepan, add 250 g (8 oz) gorgonzola or other blue cheese and crush with a fork. Add 200 ml (7 fl oz) cream or milk and stir until well blended, adding pepper and a touch of nutmeg. Serve mixed well with pasta.