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Linguine with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Gorgonzola and Walnuts
Al dente… pasta, tossed with a creamy sauce of gorgonzola cheese, cream, thyme and lemon zest, together with tender spears of the new seasons sprouting broccoli and crunchy toasted walnuts.
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Cooked in the 24cm Cast Iron Round Casserole. Serves four.
- 400g (14oz) dried linguine pasta
- 225g (8oz) Gorgonzola »piccante… cheese- rind removed
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 2 garlic cloves- crushed
- Leaves from 2 large sprigs thyme- chopped
- 200ml (7floz) double cream or cräme fraåche
- Finely grated zest 1 small, un-waxed lemon
- 600g (1lb 5oz) purple sprouting broccoli- prepared (see cook…s notes)
- 50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese- finely grated, plus extra to serve
- 50g (2oz) walnut pieces- lightly toasted
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a really large pan of 3 litres (5¼ pints) of well-salted water to the boil in the casserole, and prepare a steamer (see cook’s notes). Add the linguine to the boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.
- Meanwhile, break the cheese into small pieces. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the garlic and cook over a very gentle heat without letting it colour for about 1 minute. Add the thyme leaves and cook for a few seconds more. Add the cream, cheese and lemon zest and leave over a low heat, stirring now and then, until it has formed a thick and creamy sauce. Season well with black pepper.
- After the pasta has been cooking for 5 minutes, add the sprouting broccoli to the steamer, sprinkle it lightly with salt and cook for 8 minutes or until quite tender.
- Drain the linguine well, saving a little of the cooking liquid as you do so. Return the pasta to the pan and stir in half the creamy cheese sauce and a little of the reserved cooking water, followed by the sprouting broccoli and 50g of the Parmesan cheese. Season with a little salt if you wish. Spoon into warmed bowls, drizzle over the rest of the cheese sauce, then sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and a little more Parmesan cheese.
- Sprouting broccoli starts to appear in the shops as early as November, but this early in the season it needs a little extra preparation as the skin on the stalks has a tendency to be quite tough, and needs peeling off. Working your way around the base of the stem, simply trap the skin with the blade of a small sharp knife and pull it away. This takes a bit of extra time but is very easy and well worth the effort.
- In March and early April, the sprouting broccoli shoots are tender enough to be cooked without peeling, and can be treated in much the same way as asparagus. Buy stems that are a rich dark-green colour, with stalks that are no more than 1cm thick and which snap crisply when you break them.
- Sprouting broccoli, like ordinary broccoli, can become waterlogged and soggy if overcooked, as the heads cook much quicker than the stems. So cut the stalks across into two shorter pieces and cook the bottom half of the stems for 1 minute before adding the leafy heads. Steaming rather than boiling is ideal.
- To create a steamer at home, either drop an opened petal steamer into the base of a pan, add just enough water to the pan so that it does run up through the holes and bring to the boil. Alternatively, place some sort of trivet such as an upturned large ramekin into the base of a large deep sauté or frying pan and rest a heatproof plate on top. Add water to the pan until it comes to just below the plate and bring to the boil. Lay the sprouting broccoli on the plate, cover the pan with a lid and cook until tender.
- Gorgonzola is a pungent, soft blue cheese from Italy. If you prefer a slightly milder taste, use the ‘dulce’ one or an Italian creamy dolce latté cheese instead.