Tagliatelle gorgonzola e noci

My sister-in-law, Lakshmi -- problem the most in gamba (in English: overall cool) person I know -- is, among many things, an excellent cook. Though she only really started to cook when she moved to the U.S back in 2013 -- both because she was a student and because cooking for herself was the easiest way to access good Indian food -- but she is so very brava that I find it hard to believe she hasn't been cooking for much longer than that. She has introduced us -- her very lucky family -- to dishes like chicken biryani and pappadums, lemon rice and coconut rice, and everything from shrimp to egg to goat curry. She's taught us that naan bread is redundant (naan already means bread) and the same goes for chai tea (idem) and that, on a non-food related note, the Himalayas are pronounced not him-uh-LAY-uhs but actually him-AHL-yuhs (who knew?!) 

Having said this: in the same way that I find Indian cuisine intimidating (what with its many spices, marinades, and unfamiliar ingredients) my sister-in-law used to find Italian cuisine (what with its characteristic cheese, pasta, and many pork products, from prosciutto to guanciale to pancetta) equally intimidating. This surprised me at first -- after all, Italian cooking is known for its simplicity and straightforwardness -- but it's all a matter of what you're used to, what you've grown up with, isn't it? At the beginning, when she was first expanding her culinary horizons to Italian food, I fielded many a question from her, their arrival announced by the ping! of my cell phone; was it normal that the sauce the meatballs were cooking in was bubbling so very furiously? was she cooking them the right way?! If one was used to cooking with things like curry leaves, fresh ginger, and turmeric, how did western herbs like basil, rosemary, and oregano compare? Why did a recipe for pesto call for just 1 clove of garlic -- was that a mistake? After all, an Indian recipe would call for at least 5 or 6! 

It would seem that my sister-in-law truly does have a knack for cooking, as she has quickly familiarized herself with and subsequently conquered Italian cuisine just as she once conquered Indian cuisine, learning to, in her own words: season with a lighter hand, discern the differences between Italy's many cheeses, observe how my mother and I cook, and not be afraid to ask questions. She now makes not only dishes from her own country but also from the one of the family she married in to, mastering dishes like roast lamb with red wine and and a fit-for-Christmas Eve sugo di pesce, adding classic dishes like pasta con le sarde, pasta e ceci and crostata di ricotta to her repertoire, and regularly consulting the cookbooks of Marcella Hazan. All of this has left me positively bursting with pride, and also more aware of the fact that I should really make more of an effort to learn about Indian cuisine, to fully close the culinary circle (late addition to my list of 2019 resolutions!)

So! What does all this have to do with today's dish, tagliatelle gorgonzola e noci? Not so long ago Lakshmi was telling us about her newest adventures in Italian cooking, and while I don't quite remember the details, I do remember that at one point in a conversation about our favorite cheeses, my sister-in-law mentioned my brother's preferred formaggio, or rather, gor-GAHN-zola, which rolled off her tongue in a very knowledgeable, matter-of-fact sort of way. The correct pronunciation of this cheese is, of course, gor-gon-ZO-la, and the whole thing was so endearing and so very amusing that I can't help but think of my sister-in-law every time I spot this cheese at the shop -- and now every time I prepare this recipe. So! This dish is one of those wonderful rarities that manages to be special and fancy and quick and easy at the same time, and really: does it get any better than pasta tossed in a super luxurious cheese sauce with a hint of warming sage and toasty garlic and crunchy, buttery walnuts to boot?! I didn't think so. Gor-GAHN-zola for the win. 

A couple of notes: You can use any long flat pasta you want here -- fettuccine or pappardelle would also be nice. I remember when I was little my mom had a similar dish in her repertoire, where she used penne, which were also delicious. Next time I make this I might up the quantity of sauce and bake it in the oven with a shorter pasta...stay tuned/let me know if you get around to trying this before me!

Looking for other super simple pasta recipes? I've got this spaghetti with quick cherry tomato sauce, this cacio e pepe, this rigatoni with eggplant, these three pestos (almond, basil, pistachio), this pici with sausage ragu', this penne alla vodka, and this fettuccine with brie, tomatoes, and basil

Recipe from Rachel Roddy via The Guardian
Serves 4

1 pound (500 grams) dried tagliatelle
2 tablespoons (30 grams) butter
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced 
6-8 sage leaves
75 grams (2.5 ounces) gorgonzola dolce
1/2 cup (100ml) heavy cream
A big handful of chopped walnuts

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook as per packet instructions. Have all the ingredients for the sauce ready to go.
While the pasta cooks, take a small pan and, over a medium-low flame, melt the butter, and add the sliced garlic and sage leaves, leaving it all to bubble for a minute.
Add the cubed gorgonzola, cream and a few grinds of black pepper, then stir until the cheese has melted. Continue cooking for another minute. Taste and add salt, if needed. 
When ready – tender but with a slight bite – drain the pasta (saving a little of its cooking water) and tip it into a warm bowl. Pour over the cheese sauce, add half the walnuts and toss quickly, adding a little pasta cooking water if it seems at all stiff. Divide between bowls, sprinkle over the remaining walnuts, and immediately serve.

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