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Penne with Spinach, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts


Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 114

Chopped nuts are unusual in pasta, but they pair brilliantly with the earthy Gorgonzola in this creamy weeknight dish. Toasting the nuts deepens their flavor, so don’t skip this step.

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves (10 lightly packed cups) 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts  
  • 12 oz. dried penne (3-1/2 cups) 
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2-1/2 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola (1/2 cup) Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives 
To wilt the spinach perfectly, put it in a colander and drain the pasta over it.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Put the spinach in a colander in the sink. 

Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven until dark golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the penne according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta in the colander over the spinach. 

Put the cream, Gorgonzola, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and a pinch of salt in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pasta and spinach, and 2 Tbs. each of the walnuts and chives. Cook, stirring constantly, until some of the sauce is absorbed by the pasta, about 2 minutes. If necessary, add some of the cooking water to moisten the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowls, sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. walnuts and 1 Tbs. chives, and serve. 

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a simple green salad dressed with homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 620, Fat (kcal): 28, Fat Calories (g): 260, Saturated Fat (g): 14, Protein (g): 19, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7, Carbohydrates (mg): 72, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 5, Sodium (g): 560, Cholesterol (g): 80, Fiber (g): 7,

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is very good and oh so fast. I used a lot more cheese because that's the way we like it.

Quick-n-easy. For the ones who find it "too rich" try melting the gorgonzola in milk, then add arrowroot to bind.

This has become a staple recipe at our house!!!! It has a delicate sauce with exploding flavor. We love how easy and effortless this recipe is.

Now I know what to make when my daughter leaves spinach and gorgonzola behind - so easy and delicious!

I love this dish, and while it may not be quite five stars when I compare it to some of the other stand out dishes I have found with fine cooking, this is one of the easiest ways to get fantastic flavor for dinner. I usually try to save money and buy crumbled blue cheese from the cheap cheese section of the grocery store. The kind that comes in a little plastic container that is meant for salads. It's a little more cheese than the recipe calls for but dump it all in and it's delicious. I also use more toasted walnuts than called for. If you aren't getting the flavor punch you want you might want to try these changes as well. I admit that this isn't a dieters favorite dish, but then it doesn't claim to be. There are icon's that fine cooking puts under its recipes and the little sun icon is what you are looking for if you want those healthier options, but there is no reason to bash a recipe just because of the calorie count. I find that this is a great belly warmer in the middle of winter and I have no trouble with eating a high calorie dinner once in a while.

Fantastic. To the person who could not in "good conscience" serve this please remember not ALL food is supposed to be diet food.

This recipe was very tasty and incredibly fast and easy - perfect for a weeknight. I read the reviews with poor ratings and wondered about complaints of bland taste. I thought the gorgonzola and toasted walnuts made the dish explode with flavor. Sometimes when I find that food is a bit bland it is just lacking a little salt, which really enhances the flavours of a dish. I will definitely make this again. I may also try using arugula instead of spinach. I feel like the nutty flavour of the arugula will enhance the taste even more. This is just an idea for a variation though - the recipe is great as it is.

I was very disappointed with this recipe. I found it bland to say the least. Wished in hindsight that I had reduced the cream and added the Gorgonzola cheese at the end so that there were tasty little tidbits of flavour . Reducing it with the cream totally removed any taste of the cheese. I will not make it again.

This dish probably is delicious when prepared as written, but I couldn't in good conscience serve such a high-calorie meal, with such a lot of saturated fat. I used whole-wheat penne, and I replaced the cream with half and half. The resulting dish was OK but nothing special. It left my husband whining for mayo, a sure sign that something is lacking.

this is a delicious incredibly easy recipe. By the time the penne is cooked. the rest can be assembled. It can also be prepared in any amount - I prepared 1/4th of a recipe!

I love to eat, and this recipe sounds delicious; BUT! OMG think about the approx. 1000 calories and high fat content of this dish!

Wonderful pairing of flavors - the walnut crunch pairs beautifully with the gorgonzola and wilted spinach! Easy weekenight meal and delicious served along side of roasted chicken!

Made this tonight and it was really good. Even my four year old ate it. It was a nice change from the typical white sauce and the walnuts added a fun texture as well as flavor. We'll definitely make it again!

Made this tonight and it was really good. Even my four year old ate it. It was a nice change from the typical white sauce and the walnuts added a fun texture as well as flavor. We'll definitely make it again!

Wonderful! The kids didn't realize that there was gorgonzola cheese in it until I told them. They made a face and then scarfed down some more. Even with toasting, the walnuts didn't have much of a presence except for crunch.

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