Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mark Bittman's Farfalle (or Penne) with Gorgonzola and Cherry Tomatoes

An Italian-American friend of my sister schooled me at Christmas dinner a few years ago: Italians don't eat pasta. Rather than call a dish "pasta with spring vegetables" or "pasta with lemon shrimp" the dish should be identified by the type of noodle, i.e. "farfalle with spring vegetables" or "linguine with lemon shrimp." My brother also works with someone who went off on him when my brother described some dish as "pasta with broccoli" and his co-worker shouted at him, "It's cavatappi with broccoli!" Point taken then! I gladly defer to my Italian-American fellow citizens of New Jersey (I've seen the Real Housewives of NJ)! I think most folks get this with the names of many familiar dishes like linguine with clam sauce, baked ziti, and lasagne. In each of these dishes the noodle defines the dish as much as what accompanies. And besides "pasta" is just Italian for "dough" and that is not what you are making and serving. You're serving a dish that uses a particular noodle that should be named.

Mark Bittman's Farfalle with Gorgonzola and Cherry Tomatoes is an easy dish that can be made winter or summer. Often cherry or grape tomatoes are the only acceptable choice in the winter when other fresh tomatoes are only a summer memory. At the height of summer there are so many colors and varieties of cherry tomatoes that this dish seems perfect for a quick summer supper. As with most recipes, the ingredients can be readily substituted depending on what you may have on hand (feta for the Gorgonzola, watercress or spinach for the arugula, milk for the cream and so on). There's certainly no reason to make this dish the same way twice if you don't want to!

Penne with Gorgonzola and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in the New York Times, January 24, 2007
TOTAL TIME 30 minutes
YIELD 6 to 8 servings [or 4 servings if using only 8 ounces of farfalle]


  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half-and-half, cream or milk [I used nonfat milk and added some butter]
  • 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other good blue cheese
  • 1 pound farfalle or other pasta [I used only a half pound of penne]
  • 2 cups arugula trimmed of very thick stems, washed, dried and chopped [I used a bunch of watercress, including the stems]
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half [I used cherry tomatoes from my garden]
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste, optional


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. In a small saucepan gently warm the half-and-half and Gorgonzola just until cheese melts a bit and mixture becomes thick; chunky is O.K. [If using watercress as I did, you might want to stir it into the cheese sauce to soften the stems a bit. Or not; nothing wrong with a bit of crunch.]
  2. When water boils, cook pasta until it is just tender but not mushy. Drain and return to pot over low heat.
  3. Stir in Gorgonzola sauce along with arugula, tomatoes and a healthy dose of black pepper. Stir to combine, taste and add salt, if necessary, then serve immediately, with grated Parmesan if you like.

1 comment:

  1. Sweetheart, this sounds so divine.

    I'm thinking of using Farfalle instead of Penne and adding some grilled chicken breast and maybe some garlic roasted asparagus...


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