Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe

Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe Recipe

Blue cheese sauce isn't what you would call low-calorie, but it's certainly very tasty. Instead of the usual Gruyère cheese, I used roquefort cheese in a Mornay sauce, which is basically a béchamel (creamy sauce made of flour, butter and milk) with cheese. It's not the authentic French sauce but my husband Lulu and his little sister Sunny loved the strong flavor of blue cheese.

I poured the blue cheese sauce over riccioli pasta and topped with a brunoise, which is a blend of similarly-sized and shaped diced vegetables (I used orange bell peppers, crimini mushrooms, zucchini, jiacama and carrots). The addition of the jicama adds body and crunch to the vegetarian pasta meal. I also finished the dish with crumbled blue cheese as a reminder of the flavor from the creamy pasta sauce.

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

1 (16-ounce) package riccioli pasta
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
4-½ cups milk, warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3 ounces blue cheese, + extra for garnish
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms, diced
½ jicama (see tips), peeled
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 zucchini, finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste, table
1 sage leaf, finely chopped
1 clove, ground into fine powder
½ teaspoon paprika (or red chili powder)
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped


Directions

For the riccioli pasta: Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta does not stick to the bottom. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), drain the pasta (do NOT rinse) into a large colander. Season with a little salt.

For the blue cheese sauce: In a saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium-low; you don't want the butter to burn. Add the red chili flakes (if used). Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Stir well until incorporated and add the milk in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the blue cheese and reduce the heat to low. Season with grated Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.

For the jicama: Peel and slice horizontally into ½-inch thick pieces. In a large pan, heat the oil and fry the jicama slices until golden brown. Once they are cool enough to handle, finely dice the slices. Set aside.

Cooking the brunoise: Heat the oil in a pot. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Increase the heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the sage, clove and paprika. Once the paste is fragrant, decrease the heat and add the carrots, zucchini and jicama. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste, mushrooms and bell pepper to the brunoise. Stir well, then add ¼ cup water. Wait for the mixture to reach a full boil, then immediately turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Check seasoning. Set aside.


Assembly time:

In individual pasta bowls (or plates), add a layer of riccioli pasta. Pour ladlesful of blue cheese sauce over the pasta. Top with 2 tablespoons of brunoise and garnish with crumbled blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Serve warm.

Bon appétit!


Tips

Jicama is a large, sweet, firm turnip that is used in vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine to imitate the juicy pork fat and pork skin (when fried). It's crunchy like an apple and filling like a potato. You can find it in most supermarket produce departments or any Vietnamese store; it's called củ sắn. You could replace jicama with water chestnut , radish or celery to add crunch to the brunoise.

I used a combination of blue cheese (roquefort) and Parmesan cheese. If you decided to go with milder cheeses, you might want to add more salt.

To make the cheese sauce, all the ingredients should be at the same temperature, so be sure to heat the vegetable broth in the microwave (or in a saucepan) for about 2 minutes, so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.

If you have white sauce left-over, don't discard it. Just store it for later and use it as a sauce for a croque-monsieur sandwich (ham and cheese sandwich).

If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 19, 2011.


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