Pleasantly rich, creamy, and complex
This Gorgonzola Pasta with Browned Butter Lemon and Broccolini is pleasantly rich, creamy, and bursting with complex flavor and texture. Penne pasta is enveloped in a creamy and salty Gorgonzola cream sauce, garlic-sauteed broccolini rounds the dish out with a bite of verdant sweetness, butter browned lemon provides acidity that helps mellow the richness of the blue cheese, and a measure of toasted walnuts adds a bite of crunchy texture to finish. This dish is special enough for date night, but tasty enough to add to the menu any night of the week!
Flavor Spotlight: Gorgonzola
Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese that originated in Milan, Italy (but is easily accessible at many grocery stores in the US) made from cow’s milk. This cheese has a white flesh with greenish-blue marbling and is buttery and quite salty and come in textures ranging from crumbly to creamy. I find that Gorgonzola is a good option for those who may sometimes find the blue mold flavor of blue cheese overpowering as it tends to be somewhat milder in Gorgonzola — making it a perfect choice for this creamy Gorgonzola pasta dish.
What kind of pasta is best to use?
I prefer a hearty tube pasta for this Gorgonzola Pasta dish as I love to be able to spear a bite of the lemon and broccolini at the same time, so my go-to pasta shapes are penne, rigatoni, or ziti. However, the pasta choice is 100% up to you. If you prefer more of a twirl, I can see this sauce being wonderful with a wide, flat pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle. This sauce would also be really lovely tossed in with gnocchi if that’s more your style. If you are gluten-free, this dish can easily be made with a gluten-free pasta of your choosing — this is one of my favorite gluten-free penne options.
Can I use Broccoli instead of Broccolini?
I prefer to use broccolini for this dish because its mild, sweet flavor pairs wonderfully with the rich gorgonzola without competing with it, and its long, thin stalk requires only a quick sear to achieve the ideal tenderness. If you cannot source broccolini, I would actually suggest using chopped fresh asparagus before you reach for broccoli as it tends to have a closer flavor and texture profile to broccolini than broccoli does. If you really prefer to use broccoli, I suggest slicing the broccoli into thinner pieces and keeping more of the stalk intact than you might normally consider, rather than mainly utilizing the stocky crowns. However, I will stress that you will achieve a different flavor profile from broccoli.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chef’s knife
- A kitchen scale (or measuring cups for less precise measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A large pot or Dutch oven
- A wooden spatula
- A colander
- A ladle and small prep bowl (to reserve some of the pasta water — Though, I honestly often carefully use a handled coffee mug instead)
- A large skillet
- A microplane or grater
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
LOOKING FOR MORE DINNER INSPIRATION?
Love this Gorgonzola Pasta with Browned Butter Lemon and Broccolini recipe? Here are some additional dinner dishes that you might enjoy!
- Pasta with Ricotta Beet Sauce
- Pasta with Olive Tapenade
- Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas
- Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza
- Tuna Nicoise Salad
A note for special diets
This Gorgonzola Pasta with Browned Butter Lemon and Broccolini can be made friendly for gluten-free diets by utilizing a gluten-free pasta — This corn and rice penne is one of my favorite options.
This Gorgonzola Pasta with Browned Butter Lemon and Broccolini is pleasantly rich, creamy, and bursting with complex flavor and texture.
- 12 oz penne pasta (or your preferred pasta, gluten-free if needed)
- 50 g (about 1/2 cup) walnuts, halves or pieces
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large lemon, thinly sliced, ends and seeds discarded
- 1 tbsp garlic-infused love oil – OR – 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 bundle (about 272 g) broccolini, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt + a generous pinch more to salt the pasta water
- 6 oz (about 1 cup + 3 tbsp) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled or roughly chopped, plus more to top if desired
- 2 oz (about 2/3 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated + plus more to top if desired
- 2 oz (about 1/4 cup) heavy cream
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat with a generous pinch of salt. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions (generally about-10 minutes). Prior to draining, remove 8 oz (1 cup) pasta water and reserve to the side, then drain the pasta and reserve to the side.
- While the pasta is cooking, I like to toast the walnuts. In a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat, add the walnuts and toast gently, stirring often with a wooden spoon or spatula until lightly golden and fragrant around 5-minutes. Nuts can burn quickly so keep a close eye on them as they cook. Once toasted, remove from heat, transfer the nuts to a prep dish (as you’ll be using the pan again), and reserve to the side.
- Using the same pan you just toasted the walnuts in, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add lemon slices and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to brown and lemon has softened and is beginning to brown on both sides. Remove from heat and reserve lemon and any remaining brown butter to the side, scraping the pan out gently with a silicone spatula.
- By now, you will likely have drained your pasta and the pot is empty. Using the pot you cooked your pasta in over medium-high heat, add garlic-infused olive oil (or olive oil) and heat until shimmering. Add broccolini and saute, stirring frequently for around 5 minutes. You just want to give the broccoli a chance to brown and tenderize slightly but keep a bit of crispness. Season with 1/2 tsp Kosher salt. If using minced garlic cloves (instead of the garlic-oil) you can add this in during the last minute of cooking, sautéing with the broccolini until fragrant. Remove the broccolini from the pot and reserve to the side with the lemon.
- Lower the heat in the pot to medium. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water along with the gorgonzola cheese, parmesan cheese, and heavy cream. Stir frequently until cheese is melted and smooth (adding a splash of the remaining reserved pasta water as needed) then season with a few cracks of black pepper to taste. Add the pasta back to the pan and stir to combine with the sauce. Add the broccolini and lemon to the pot and gently toss to combine.
- Serve pasta with a measure of the reserved toasted walnuts on top and an optional sprinkle of additional Parmesan cheese and/or Gorgonzola cheese to top, if desired. I usually add an extra crack of black pepper to finish.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 501
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 488 mg
- Fat: 26 g
- Saturated Fat: 12 g
- Carbohydrates: 48 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 19 g
- Cholesterol: 57 mg
Keywords: pasta, Gorgonzola, Lemon, Broccolini