Penne with Gorgonzola, Beets and Toasted Walnuts
- 2 medium beets (about 1 pound), scrubbed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups sliced red onion
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 pound Gorgonzola, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 3/4 pound penne
- 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Trim the tops and root ends of the beets (save the green leaves if they are fresh and cook them like spinach). Cook the beets, unpeeled, in lightly salted water until they are easily pierced by a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Cool, peel away the loosened skin, and cut into strips as long as the penne and 1/4 inch thick. Reserve.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan or skillet large enough to hold all the cooked pasta. Cook the garlic and onions to soften but not color, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan and raise the heat. Reduce the wine until syrupy.
Stir in the heavy cream, lower to a simmer, and reduce the sauce until it very lightly coats the back of a spoon. Strain over a bowl, pressing the onions and garlic with a ladle. Return the strained sauce to the sauce pan and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat and slowly whisk in the Gorgonzola until it is completely melted. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Return the sauce to a simmer over a medium flame and add the pasta, stirring until coated. Toss in the beets and the walnuts, mixing lightly just until the sauce turns pink. Transfer the pasta to a warm bowl, sprinkle with the Pecorino and parsley and serve.
Source: Union Square Cafe Cookbook