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The New Creamy Pasta Sauce
Milk Street Bowtie Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts

Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts

45 minutes

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Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts

Free

Creamy pasta sauces pose two problems: They are finicky to make and they quickly decompose into a stringy or grainy mess. So when we came across a recipe from Nigel Slater that suggested using fresh goat cheese instead of the Parmesan called for in classic Alfredo and carbonara, we were intrigued. The notion was simple. The heat of freshly cooked pasta and a splash of its cooking water would dissolve the soft chevre, making a rich, smooth sauce in no time. Except it didn’t work. The ingredients quickly broke down into a chalky mess. Then we discovered a technique by Marcella Hazan in which you first mix the cheese with olive oil. It worked wonderfully, but why? Turns out, goat’s milk has more fat than cow’s milk, so turning it into cheese requires the addition of acid. The acid forms the cheese curds but also creates strong water-insoluble bonds between the proteins. Hence our chalky mess. But add oil to the chevre and those bonds slip apart and the cheese melts easily. The same trick works for any acid-set cheese, such as ricotta, cottage and feta.

4

Servings

Tip

We like to salt our pasta cooking water liberally, since it seasons not only the pasta but also the finished dish; 2 generous tablespoons of kosher salt for 4 quarts of water was best.

45 minutes

Kosher salt
¾ pound gemelli or casarecce pasta
4 ounces chevre (fresh goat cheese)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
4 ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
⅓ cup finely chopped fresh chives
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt

  • ¾

    pound gemelli or casarecce pasta

  • 4

    ounces chevre (fresh goat cheese)

  • 5
  • 4

    ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)

  • ¾

    cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

  • cup finely chopped fresh chives

Pasta Water Hero Image

Tuesday Nights

Save that pasta water

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Reviews
Connie G.

#4.5 to 5. Charter Issue, Fall 2016. Very good with nice creamy sauce. Used mixture of spinach and arugula. Could not find pasta specified so used Bowties. Could add bacon or Italian sausage

Anne B.

Thank you for your comment! Your comment is currently under moderation and will appear shortly.

Donna B.

I have made this several times using both the gemelli pasta as well as the alternate casarecce pasta. No difference in texture and both work equally well. I followed the recipe 100%. Nice creamy sauce and a quick weeknight meatless dinner. This would also make a nice side pasta dish as well. The peppery taste of the baby arugula goes well with the goat cheese and chives. This one goes into my rotation.

Granville W.

As a well seasoned professional chef and know a culinary college instructor I find your TV shop and web page a treasure trove of good information. My wife and enjoy having our Saturday morning coffee and watching your show. All your assistants have great personalities and we enjoy them all. Keep up the great passion for food and exploration.
Granville & Susie Wood

Jarrod C.

Does it make a difference if when I bring the water to a boil, the pasta already in the bowl that i'm bringing to a boil?

Lynn C.

Hi Jarrod -

We aren't 100% sure what your question is. Are you asking if you should add the water and the pasta to the pot and then bring it to a boil? If so, the answer is "no." You want to bring the water to a boil, add the salt, and then add the pasta.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Melissa J.

My husband’s allergic to walnuts. Can you suggest some substitutions?

Lynn C.

Hi Melissa -

Assuming he's not allergic to other nut, you could use pecans or almonds. If he's allergic to all tree nuts, I would simply omit the nuts.

Best,
The Milk Street Team


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Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

45 minutes

Tip

We like to salt our pasta cooking water liberally, since it seasons not only the pasta but also the finished dish; 2 generous tablespoons of kosher salt for 4 quarts of water was best.

Ingredients
  • Kosher salt

  • ¾

    pound gemelli or casarecce pasta

  • 4

    ounces chevre (fresh goat cheese)

  • 5
  • 4

    ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)

  • ¾

    cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

  • cup finely chopped fresh chives

Pasta Water Hero Image

Tuesday Nights

Save that pasta water

Step 1 of 3

Make the Pasta

¾
pound gemelli or casarecce pasta
4
ounces chevre (fresh goat cheese)
5
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼
teaspoon kosher salt
¼
teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.


Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cheese, oil and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and red pepper flakes, stirring and mashing with a fork until smooth.


Drain the pasta, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water, then return the pasta to the pot.

Step 2 of 3

Add the Arugula

4
ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)

Add the arugula, goat cheese mixture and reserved pasta cooking water, then toss until the cheese mixture is evenly distributed and the arugula begins to wilt.

Step 3 of 3

Finish & Serve

¾
cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
cup finely chopped fresh chives

Stir in the walnuts and chives, reserving a tablespoon of each for garnish, if desired, then season with salt and red pepper flakes.


Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl, then garnish with the remaining walnuts and chives.

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