Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pasta with Kale and Caramelized Onions in Blue Cheese Sauce

I was wandering around my local grocery store today, just wasting time. I was only there to get a couple items, but it’s impossible for me to not peruse if I have a little extra time. Definitely could not leave without checking out the cold deli counter. If you didn’t know, I’ve got a deli obsession. Ultra-thin prosciutto and coppa, peppered salami, pastrami, honey ham, liverwurst...I love love love them all! Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the cheese! Lordy, do I get excited when I see a cold case full of cheese.

As I was waiting for the deli guy to slice my coppa, I notice they were offering a Gorgonzola, walnut and grape pasta salad. I’m not really a fan of cold pasta and I’m wary of buying the stuff at the deli. In my experience deli salads rarely taste as good as they look. A light bulb did go off in my head, however, and I knew what I’d be making for dinner.

This pasta is easy and creamy (which I didn't do a good job of capturing). If you're worried about the cheese being too strong, no need. It mellows out when it's cooked. With that said, the quality of the blue cheese is important here, since the whole dish is based on the sauce. I do not recommend those pre-crumbled blue (or feta) cheeses available in most supermarkets because I think they taste terrible. My favorite blues come from Rogue Creamery, an Oregon cheese producer that makes fantastic (and award winning) blue and cheddar cheese. For this pasta I used their Smokey Blue, which had a nice distinct taste, although I wouldn't have guessed it was smoked.

Pasta with caramelized onions and kale in blue cheese sauce
Serves 3
  • 1 cup pecans , toasted on a pan or under a broiler for about 5 minutes and lightly crushed (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 4 oz of your favorite blue cheese, plus some for crumbling on top (I don’t recommend one that is too soft)
  • a little milk, if necessary
  • ½ lbs pasta like spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Start by caramelizing the onions in a large pan with a little olive oil. When they are just about done (about 20 minutes or so), add the kale and sauté until wilted. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.

Once your onions are going, put on your pasta water. You’ll want to cook the pasta at least 2 to 3 minutes less than the package directions, since they will get additional time in the sauce.

In the same pan you used for the onions, add the cream and cheese. Once the cheese is melted, add the onions and kale back in and mix well. Turn off the heat until the pasta is ready. Don’t worry if the sauce seems thin. It thickens up nicely once you turn the pasta in it.

Once you are ready to dump the drained pasta in, put the pan back on the heat and mix everything together. The pasta will finish cooking and absorb some of the liquid and at the same time, the sauce will thicken. If it gets too thick or dry, add a little milk to loosen it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, topping each serving with some of the crushed pecans and crumbled blue cheese.


pigpigscorner said...

I love creamy and cheesy kale! SOunds like a great dish, love the addition of nuts!

Langdon Cook said...

Rogue Creamery rocks! And so does your pasta. One can never have enough kale. We do a kale, pine nut & parm pasta, but I like the idea of the creaminess of blue. And smoked at that!

Dee said...

pigpigscorner, I recently rediscovered my love for kale. Didn't eat much of it last season, but can't get enough of it this year. It definitely tastes great with blue cheese.

LC, I'm going to convince Hubby we have to go to their cheese festival in March. I'd be in heaven!

Manggy said...

Well, if you get your cheese from such a renowned creamery, that's just an automatic win, isn't it? Cheating! Hee hee. Looks fantastic! I don't like cold pasta myself, and the only salad I get from the deli is the potato salad to go next to my bratwurst :P

Dee said...

manggy, I'll admit that I secretly love that trashy deli potato salad, but only with sausages or hotdogs :-) A childhood bad habit that has stuck with me.

pam said...

I love any cheese from the Rogue Creamery!

Marthe said...

This sounds delicious: something I need to try, I love blue cheeses!!

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

That looks lovely!

I have some blue cheese waiting for their turn (hope they didn't go bad already) in the fridge. I think I'll go ahead and have them meet their death with some pasta.

Jason said...

This recipe looks delightful! I love the mixture of the greens with the pasta, and I'm always a fan of blue cheese with caramelized onions!

dp said...

Pam, aren't you on the other side of the country? And you get Rogue Creamery cheeses? I didn't know they reached that far. That's cool!

Marthe, blue cheese makes a wonderful pasta sauce. I'm sure you'll like it.

js, what's a little more mold? That's what my husband says.

jason, I agree, caramelized onions and blue cheese go great together. Sweet and salty.

Paula said...

Ooooh, lordy, lordy, lordy, this looks good! I have a love affair going on with onions and blue cheese these days, so you know that I'll love this! I like the combo of bitter greens and pasta, too. I don't have kale very often; don't know why, because I do like it. Your photo of this is gorgeous! YUM!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That's a really interesting combo. I'll have to try this (and thanks for the cheese recommendation)!

test it comm said...

That pasta sounds good. I like the bee hive presentation!

Dee said...

Kevin, the bee hive presentation was completely coincidental. I was just going for anything that didn't look like a big jumbled mess. Long pasta has to be some of the hardest food to capture.

Melpy said...

That was great! I made this tonight for dinner with a little different proportions. I liked it a lot. I thought the blue cheese would be too strong but now I wish I used more. Thanks for the idea-kale is awesome :)

Dee said...

Melpy, kale is so underrated, isn't it? But it's so good. And of course blue cheese is always good. It mellows out when it's cooked.