The new creamy pasta sauce
Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula, and Walnuts

Gemelli Pasta with Chevre, Arugula, and Walnuts

45 minutes

4 Servings

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.

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

  • 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

  • cup finely chopped fresh chives

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 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 & 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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