I'm usually pretty good at dealing with leftovers, whether they are remains of dinners that find new life as lunch (or are converted, via pasta, pizza dough, or tortilla into new dinners) or are the bits and bobs left over from various other culinary ventures. Both require a systematic approach and an aversion to (if not downright dedication to avoidance of) finding such things weeks later after they have mutated on their own.
I'm even better at coming up with reasons not to have to walk home from the grocery store in the rain. These two skills, scarcely related as they may be, were the genesis of last night's dinner.
In fact, I planned the dinner upon rooting through the fridge on Friday, and discovering that not only did I have a nice block of Danish Blue cheese that failed to make it onto the cutting board when we were last entertaining, but that I also had some good-sized walnut pieces and an impulse-bought head of broccoli (I know...) that needed using pronto. Since I also was feeling fairly lazy, it seemed the easiest thing in the world to combine these things into a pasta dish, and darned if I wasn't right! While we didn't have it for dinner on Friday, since it seemed even easier to go out for dinner by the time we were ready to get on with it, I liked the idea so much that I scheduled it for dinner Saturday.
It was a very, very good idea. I've heard of many combinations of blue (or bleu) cheese and walnuts before, including some pasta dishes, but I'd never seen one involving broccoli. It was every bit as easy as I thought it would be (especially with Palle around to crush the garlic and separate the florets), and even tastier than I imagined.
Next time I make this, because it is a keeper, I will probably serve it as a side dish next to a simply-seared strip loin steak (or possibly a chicken paillard) with a little spinach salad and a good glass of red wine. The broccoli adds a wonderful freshness to the dish, and cuts through the heaviness of the cheese and walnuts.
Broccoli, Blue Cheese & Walnut Linguine
serves 2 as a main dish (although, very rich)
or 4 as a side
1/2 lb. dried linguine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
100 grams blue cheese of your choice, crumbled
1 head of broccoli, sectioned into tiny florets
2/3 cup large walnut pieces
Cook the linguine in rapidly boiling, lightly salted water. While it cooks, heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet, and saute the garlic gently over a medium-low heat until mellow. Add the walnut pieces, stir well, and allow them to toast in the oil a little. When the pasta is ready, scoop it into the skillet with the garlic and walnuts, and combine thoroughly (a pasta fork is very useful for both the scooping and the combining). In the still-simmering pasta water, quickly blanch the broccoli florets for 20 to 30 seconds (I use a mesh spider-tool to hold them in briefly in the hot water, then quickly raise them) and add to the pasta. Sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese, and stir through once more. Top with freshly ground black pepper, if you wish.