5 Ingredients or Fewer

A Cure for the Blues Pasta

March 18, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This recipe came from The Savory Way by Deborah Madison and by now is as comfortable as an old shoe. The clever trick is floating a stainless steel
bowl in the pasta cooking water and melting the cheese in the bowl. It somehow makes the whole process seem easier because the whole dish is made on one burner! Infinitely malleable, amazingly simple, the ingredients can be substituted to use different cheeses, fats, herbs and even vegetables (I have stirred in a package of frozen peas, cooked). Good for when I had a toddler and infant and needed a fast supper and good for when I come home from work and feel too tired to cook. —luvcookbooks

Test Kitchen Notes

Oh hello, favorite new weeknight six-ingredient pasta dinner. Thinned with a bit of pasta water, that melted cheese becomes a not only sufficient but delicious sauce, all on its own! And when you mix in buttery walnuts and a handful of parsley and you've got a complete dinner. We'd like to try this with Brie, too.

Tip: If your pot threatens to overflow, turn down the heat. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Salt
  • 1 pound pasta that the sauce will cling to; I use farfalle and orechiette
  • 8 ounces Gorgonzola or other soft cheese, like Brie
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 handful coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 handful parsley, only the soft leaves, chopped
  • 6 chives, chopped
  1. In a big pot, bring salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta. Float a stainless steel bowl in the water and melt the cheese in the stainless steel bowl while the water heats and the pasta cooks. [Editors' note: If your water overflows, turn down the heat.]
  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, melt the butter and sauté the walnuts briefly with a pinch of salt, until they start to smell toasty.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Thin the melted cheese a little with the pasta water. Three tablespoons is probably enough. It will be like a thin cream soup. Mix the pasta with the melted cheese, then add herbs and walnuts and lots of black pepper.
  4. I like to serve grated Parmesan on the side and have a glass of wine. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • panania
  • Caroline DaVega
    Caroline DaVega
  • Madeline Spiker
    Madeline Spiker
  • Annaperenna
  • luvcookbooks

18 Reviews

panania February 26, 2023
This was fantastic and so quick and easy. My stove has heat settings from 1 to 10, so I brought the water to a boil, added the pasta and salt and dropped the temperature to 2. I then placed the metal mixing bowl on top like a cover with the diced cheese already in it. By the time the cheese was melted, the orechietti was done. Mix and serve. Voila! This is definitely going in my favorites list. Thank you so much 💓
luvcookbooks March 1, 2023
Thanks for trying! It’s a reliable and flexible recipe.
Whitney January 10, 2022
I made this with some fateful Gorgonzola/camembert cheese. I highly recommend a blue cheese that's tempered with some soft ripened, creamy style, if you can find it. And I added broccoli, which I also think I'll never NOT do! I love this recipe, but it wasn't a hit with the kids or those who don't like blue cheese.
luvcookbooks January 10, 2022
Sounds delicious. I find most kids don’t like blue cheese much.
Whitney February 5, 2022
Ok, I've made this three times now. Tonight's version was with roasted red bell pepper (roasted in tinfoil on the gas stove). Topped with Mama Lil's hungarian hot peppers. I love this dish!
luvcookbooks February 5, 2022
Hmmmm… haven’t made this in a while. Yours sounds so good… I’ll let you know how it turns out.:)
Caroline D. September 12, 2020
This is not for me at all. The gorgonzola dolce I used was fresh and so was everything else, and I followed the recipe all the way. Remember that all bleu cheeses get 100 times as pungent when they're served hot. It was ALL I could taste. I ended up using a lot of pesto to save the dish somewhat. My 3 year old with an adventurous palate ate a few bites but this is not a kid type of dish, nor should it be served solo since it's very one-note. I think every bleu cheese in my future will bring me back to this dish. I never leave recipe reviews and don't like criticizing things that aren't mine, but if you make this, have a back up ready or use a different cheese. Save the gorgonzola for a cold spread.
Madeline S. January 1, 2020
It was good- don’t know if I would use Gorgonzola again. I think it was too sharp in conjunction with the lemon. A softer or warmer Gorgonzola would be good tho.
luvcookbooks January 2, 2020
I don’t usually use lemon, not in the recipe. I usually use a Gorgonzola dolce, but you can also use a different soft cheese like Brie. Glad you tried it!
Annaperenna July 14, 2018
Love this recipe! I was a little skeptical about the blue cheese, but I had it, so I tried it. It was delicious! I also added a head of broccoli to the recipe and it was quite tasty.
luvcookbooks July 14, 2018
Glad you enjoyed it. The other ingredients smooth out the blue cheese a bit.
emcsull December 5, 2017
jamie oliver makes cauliflower macaroni and cheese like this
DMS June 29, 2017
Great recipe! I make something very similar - perfect for busy evenings. Try adjusting the recipe in this way: after adding the pasta to the boiling (salted) water add a bunch of chopped broccoli rabe (or chard or escarole) to the pot in the last 2 minutes of the pasta cooking time. Have a can of cannellini beans already in the strainer in the sink and when you drain the pasta and greens (reserve about 1 cup pasta water to make the sauce) over the beans - everything will be at the perfect temperature and perfectly cooked to be served with grated parmesan sprinkled on top. I'd add a bit of crushed red pepper AND if you have the extra 2 minutes you can also stir in a few garlic cloves that have been finely sliced and sautéed in a few tablespoons of olive oil - buon appetite!
luvcookbooks June 29, 2017
That is a nice recipe. There is a similar recipe in The Tassajara Recipe Book that cooks the broccoli and pasta together, then sauces it with mustard butter.
luvcookbooks May 26, 2017
Oh, what a beautiful photo!!! Thank you!!!
luvcookbooks March 23, 2015
Yes, I do add walnuts!! I pan saute them with a tiny bit of oil or butter and a smidge of salt first. Also great using ricotta (don't warm the ricotta first). This is such an all purpose recipe!!
LeBec F. March 23, 2015
p.s. an afterthought--wanted to make sure you knew that 52 declared saltandpepper and water are freebies/don't count as an ingredient!
LeBec F. March 23, 2015
Hmmmm, add walnuts to it and I am sooooo there!! thx!