linguine & company

i think there should be a cuisine called “classy comfort.” is there already? [update: google that, and you’ll be led to a frightening website for adult diapers.] i don’t mean the kind of thing where you take a comfort food staple like mac ’n’ cheese and upgrade it with truffle oil and whatnot. i mean the opposite, where a seemingly elegant dish somehow tastes like home. kind of like this one that i had posted about earlier.

well, in any case, i’ve found another contender: linguine with gorgonzola, potatoes, green beans, and sage. what makes it seem fancy? it has a long name, for one. and also the fact that it’s meatless (except that i made it with some diced pancetta thrown in, oops) and that it calls for “gorgonzola dolce.” i couldn’t find any at trader joe’s, by the way, which to me basically means it must be nonexistent. so i responded accordingly: tossed some regular blue cheese into my basket and adjusted the amount of butter when i got home to cook, as recommended by the recipe. still tasted damn fantastic.

you know what else is neat about this recipe? it has linguine and potatoes. maybe you think the pairing would be strange, but when i read that in the recipe title i got starry-eyed. two starches, together at last. double-carb time. and it’s a lovely thing, really. the pasta is al dente and forktwirl-worthy, and the soft chunks of potato absorb and exude beautiful flavors from the sage and butter and blue cheese.

it was so satisfying to cook, too: you lift the noodles and potatoes steaming out of the pot, and then let them settle down with the cheese, butter, and sage. stir, stir, stir, and a sauce comes together as everything melts. it reminds me a lot of this recipe for spaghetti with spinach, goat cheese, and sweet little tomatoes. they’re both good weeknight quickie meals: a summery version and this cold-weather one, which was just about perfect this week, as our season’s first storm set in.


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Linguine with Gorgonzola, Potatoes, Green Beans, and Sage
adapted from Sunset, October 2007
Serves 6

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (I couldn’t find any at the store that weren’t green, so I just used three white potatoes, each about palm-sized)
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound linguine
6 fresh sage leaves
6 ounces blue cheese
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bag (10 oz.) frozen cut green beans

Peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-in. pieces. Put in a large pot, add 2 qt. water, cover, and bring to a boil. Add salt and linguine. Stir, cover, and return to a vigorous boil. Uncover and cook until linguine is tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop sage leaves. In a large serving bowl, mash cheese, butter, sage, and pepper together. Set aside.

Add green beans to pot, and bring back to a boil. Cook briefly, just until green beans are crisp-tender. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and vegetables, shaking off as much water as possible. Pour pasta and vegetables on top of cheese-butter mixture. Toss to combine until cheese melts and coats pasta. If resulting sauce is too thick, add reserved pasta water, 1 tbsp. at a time. Serve hot, garnished with additional sage or pepper if you like.

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it comes with a salad

it’s the first day of my vacation. in between making peppermint bark, watching elf, and wearing three layers of clothing, i made this meal.

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meet the sausage-stuffed potato. it is unpretentious and comforting, which is my favorite kind of thing on a gray winter day. it pairs well with a generously pilled blanket and a snuggle on the couch, i think. i believe i’ll add it to the mental list i have of perfect winter meals, which currently includes wendy’s chili and the classic grilled cheese + hot tomato soup combo. what’s even better about this dish is that the recipe practically forces you to eat a side of greens, which – you realize after some initial reluctance – conveniently cuts the heartiness of the rest of the meal perfectly. among a few other lovely things (such as onion softened in a frying pan and a pretty red smidge of tomato paste) there is a dijon sauce that gets mixed into the sausage, and a few spoonfuls of it get set aside to be whisked into a bright and peppy salad dressing. so, you know, might as well fling it on a fistful of lettuce and eat it.

after putting the potato in for a quick broil to get those lovely browned bits (i’ve got a thing for lovely browned bits), i stuck my face above the steaming plate and followed this order: meaty, crumbly sausage, a touch of creamy sauce, fluffy potato, forkful of leafy greens. repeat.

it was good.

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