If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

22 December 2006

Imported goodness

Each time I return from a trip to the States, I stick a few things in my suitcase that are hard-verging-on-impossible to find here in Italy; you've heard me babble on in almost mythical reverence of Bounce dryer sheets and Advil. Often, friends make requests: N.Terza asked for a specific brand of deodorant and REAL orville redenbacher popcorn on my last go-round.

As for me, my secret imports have recently been:
Reese sliced water chestnuts
Lipton beefy onion soup mix
Memphis BBQ sauce
Nestle tollhouse chocolate chips
... and a bag of real pecans (that cost less than an arm and a leg)

That bag of pecans became the fodder for dinner last night. The recipe originally came from Judith in Umbria's "cooking in a rental house" cookbook. She is a world-class chef, and that download is pretty much her equivalent of 'cooking for dummies'... which is right about my level! Some of my favorite staples have come from there.

In America, I never dreamed of all the amazing things that could be done with pasta, I was sort of middle-of-the-road boring red and pesto sauces over there. And so, hoping to inspire you to do something different tonight, here's the recipe... and the best part is that including time to cook the pasta, it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to fix (once your water is boiling!)

280 g / 10 oz. penne pasta
large pot of water
small handful of salt
1 TBSP olive oil
small onion, finely chopped
couple handfuls of pecans (I went heavy ... surprise, surprise!)
8 oz / 250 g sweet/mild gorgonzola cheese, broken or cut into smallish pieces (important not to get a blue cheese that's too spicy... stay mild/sweet).

Start the pasta water to boil ... when the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta, stir.

In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil, add onion -- cooking it slowly until softened (I add a pinch of salt here, too.) Add the pecans and stir about to toast and crisp them. Add the broken up cheese to the fried onions and pecans, stirring to melt. Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water ito the pan to make the sauce creamier (pasta should be about finished when you do this, and quite firm.) Drain the pasta, and toss it into the frying pan stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Taste for salt and correct if necessary - some cheeses are naturally saltier than others, so you can't tell ahead whether you'll need it or not. Serve immediately, steaming hot!

NOTE: this is a fast sauce. You can't make it ahead, and you don't want to cook it too long. It doesn't reheat well.

Judith says this serves three as a main course, though I think she's crazy ... while my measurements weren't quite exact, I'd say that in American portions this serves 2. (Or maybe I just have a bigger appetite than most?!) Double it for a larger gang, obviously!

Buon appetito!



Blogger tallulah said...

Mmmmm....that recipe sounds delicious! I will make it for Bubby and me. The kids can have Kraft macaroni and cheese. I'll let you know how it turns out.
I want wild boar imported from Italy. I crave it...and nettles and rice gelato and limoncello (lots of limoncello, but I make my own now).

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Ma, Viaggiatore, one is presumig this i your primo and you are goig t eat somhg else after it.
Thanks for the flattery!
(Try the Barzottini that went up today., You will (insert bad word I don't say)

8:29 PM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

Yum, that recipe sounds delish!! I will make it the next time we have friends for dinner (do you KNOW how many people one box of pasta feeds? The three of us could eat six meals from it!)

1:17 AM  

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