And a note to people with blue cheese aversions: real blue cheese is NOTHING like those crappy store-bought blue cheese salad dressings. Salad dressing should be made with oil and vinegar, and should always be homemade (The Carnivore is not yet convinced of this fact - notice the vast quantity of pre-packaged salad dressings in the refrigerator). Blue cheese is a rich, crumbly, pungent but not bitter, cheese that can be purchased in the deli section of most supermarkets. There are different varieties of blue cheese, but gorgonzola is my hands-down favorite.
FARFALLE with ASPARAGUS, ROASTED SHALLOTS and BLUE CHEESE (serves 4 to 6, from The Flavors of Bon Appetit, 2001)
- 1 1/2 lbs medium shallots (about 24), peeled and halved lengthwise
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, made from French bread (I used whole wheat bread - sue me. To make breadcrumbs: put a few slices of bread in the oven at about 200 degrees for an hour or so, until very dry. Pulse in food processor until coarsely ground.)
- 1 1/2 lbs farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
- 2 lbs thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces)
- 1 pound creamy blue cheese (I used gorgonzola), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Toss shallots with 2 Tbs olive oil on baking sheet; spread in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes. These came out so good I could have just eaten them out of hand. Instead, I exercised some self-control and saved most of them for the pasta dish.
- Stir breadcrumbs and 2 Tbs olive oil in skillet over medium heat until crumbs brown, about 4 minutes. Dang, these were good too. Had to hide them from myself.
- Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until asparagus is crisp-tender and pasta is tender but firm to the bite, about 4 minutes. (Alright, I couldn't abide by this instruction because I just can't stand overcooked pasta or vegetables. I cooked the asparagus and the pasta separately to make sure I got the desired firmness with each. Honestly, will one extra pot to wash kill you?)
- Drain pasta and asparagus, either separately or together, depending on your particular quirks.
- Transfer pasta and asparagus to large bowl and immediately add blue cheese and shallots. Toss until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.