Relish: Blue Cheese and Portobello Penne
Not long ago my wife came home bearing a marvelous gift of blue cheese–my love language is cheese–and I began plotting how I would put it to use. It didn’t take me long to decide on pasta sauce after being inspired by a wonderful Italian cook from my recent trip to the Belizean island Caye Caulker: the blue cheese pasta at Sandros Piccola Cucina is pretty amazing. And no, the peculiarity of great Italian dining on a Caribbean island is not lost on me. I suppose we can’t help but do what we love wherever we are.
Honestly, I don’t have any great insight into what blue cheeses are best. My choices tend to be ruled by my wallet, so definitely leave your thoughts if you are a great cheese connoisseur. As for me, I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like–at least not yet. In this recipe I say to use 1/4 cup blue cheese, heaped, meaning really to use between 1/4 cup and 2/3 cup, depending on how intense you want your blue cheese flavor.
I have this as specifically a penne dish, but you really could use any pasta you want. I like penne for saucy recipes because of the way it holds the sauce. I’m always amazed at how many kinds of pasta are out there. I’m sure many of you could educate me on what kinds are really optimal for sauces.
With the dairy components of this recipe, it’s important to constantly stir so you don’t scald anything. Also, if you want to cut back on the fat content, you can always sub in skim/low-fat dairy products, but the flavor will suffer slightly. Unless I’m really trying to impress someone, I tend to use reduced-fat sour cream, since that’s where so much of the fat is. You could even experiment with swapping in plain or Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
This would be great with a side of something light and fresh: perhaps salad greens tossed with mandarin orange slices, craisins, and sliced almonds. If you’re looking for a wine to enjoy with your pasta, my wife and I have come to love the California Red Wine by Ménage à Trois. It’s not very expensive and it’s very tasty. We also enjoy Red Velvet by Cupcake Vineyards, which is a great after-dinner wine to sip in the evening while hanging out.
- 4 servings penne
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large portobello mushroom cap, sliced
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese, heaped
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- Cook your penne, drain, and set aside, covered to keep warm.
- Finely chop the shallot and garlic, and slice your portobello mushroom cap.
- In a pan, heat your oil or butter over medium-low and add the shallot, garlic, and mushroom. Saute for a few minutes until softened.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream, blue cheese, Parmesan cheese, and milk, stirring constantly until mixed.
- Add the ground mustard, paprika, sea salt, and parsley, continuing to stir until mixed.
- Pour the blue cheese sauce in with your penne and stir to combine.
- Plate the pasta and enjoy.