This is an indulgently rich balm to soothe body and soul in the bitter cold. The pear and walnut are by no means essential, in fact a plate of tagliatelle drenched in just the creamy, peppery cheese sauce is pure joy. However, the chunks of fruit add a delicate sweetness that cuts through the intense richness of the sauce and it’s little extra effort to throw them in.
This dish breaks all my rules of stress-free cooking for friends, as it can in no way be prepared in advance. But it’s so simple to make that I feel comfortable and happy serving it to company, though I would baulk at cooking it for more than six, because the delicate timings of the pasta become too unwieldy for my peace of mind.
HANDS ON TIME
350g (4 portions of) tagliatelle
80ml (1/3 cup) half and half
450g (1 and 1/4 cup) Gorgonzola cheese, chopped
1 large or 2 small pears
A handful of whole walnuts
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Fill a large saucepan with water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the water is galloping, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the cheese, then set over a medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the cheese has almost completely melted. Core the pear(s) and slice finely, then roughly chop the nuts.
Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water (roughly 1⁄4 cup), toss in the cheese sauce and reserved cooking water, then, just before serving, toss through the pear and walnut pieces. Add a little black pepper, if you like, and serve immediately.
Reprinted from A Table for Friends by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2020, Skye McAlpine.
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