It stinks and it is mouldy: if I use these words to describe food, you definitely wouldn’t be so keen on eating it. However, I can’t find any other way to describe Gorgonzola cheese, one of my favourite ingredients in pasta or pizza.
It is believed that Gorgonzola is the result of a mistake (a beautiful mistake, may I say) made by a shepherd that one day started putting together the ingredients to make crescenza cheese; then he realised that he didn’t bring all the equipment with him and decided to leave the mixture in a tray overnight. The day after, he added some warm rennet made on that same morning, to the cold mixture he left overnight: the difference in temperature made the air flow in the gaps within the cheese and consequently the spreading of the bacteria, that after a few days turned into a blue/green mouldy marbling.
It is not clear when Gorgonzola was born, some people believe it was around 879, but it is only in 1860 that this cheese was produced in the modern way, ageing in cold rooms. The ingredients and the process are a little bit more sophisticated in our days: cow’s milk is mixed to starter bacteria and spores of the mould Penicillium glaucum. Then the cheese is left in cold rooms for the ageing process, during which metal rods are quickly inserted and removed, creating air channels that allow the mould spores to grow and create the typical marbling.
Fun fact: I used to be a very fussy eater when I was a kid. To convince me to try it, my mum told me that the green bits in gorgonzola were spinach. She then forgot about this lie and I moved on with my life enjoying my gorgonzola, only to find out the truth when I was 17 years old!! Please lie responsibly.
Curiosity: Winston Churchill used to love Gorgonzola cheese, and he asked that all charts used by the RAF had highlighted the area where gorgonzola is produced, so that they wouldn’t bomb it.
Gorgonzola has a very strong and distinctive flavour, so I usually pair it with delicate or sweet accompaniment: courgettes, honey, figs, nuts, mushrooms…I can go on for days.
But my favourite combination is with pears: the sweetness of the fruit goes perfectly with the sharpness of the cheese, and at the same time it enhances its saltiness and acidity. Masterchef talking here.
So I made this lovely ravioli with pear, gorgonzola and walnuts – they give that little touch of crunchiness we need! The pasta dough is made the traditional way, I know stuffed pasta needs eggs but I believe in “cucina povera” (the kitchen of the frugal cooking), where people couldn’t afford eggs and used the simplest ingredients available, in this case flour and water.
Ingredients for 2 people:
-150g semolina flour
-pinch of salt
-butter, a teaspoon
-chopped walnuts, 10g
Just 3 tablespoons of butter and some chopped walnuts to decorate
- Mix together the water, semolina and salt
- Knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth texture
- Cover the dough in clingfilm and leave it for 30 minutes
- In the meantime, peel the pear and chop it finely
- Melt the teaspoon of butter in a pan
- Add the pear and cook for 10/15 minutes until tender, stirring all the time
- Leave it to cool
- Add the gorgonzola and the walnuts to the pears and mix well until everything is evenly distributed
- Remove the cling film, and using a rolling pin or a pasta machine flatten the dough until 2/3 mm wide
- Take a glass or an espresso mug, depending how large you want your ravioli, and cut as many discs as you can. Remember that one disc (the base) will contain the filling and the other one will be its “hat”, so divide them by two and put the hats away
- Put a tablespoon of the filling on each base
- Put your finger in water and then around the edges of the disc
- Put your finger in water and then around the edges of the hat
- Put the hat on top of the base, and press the edges. While doing so, press gently the hat around the filling, to make sure you are getting rid of all the air
- Press the edges and make sure there are no holes around your raviolo
- Boil water and add salt
- Cook the ravioli for 2/3 minutes
- Put 3 tablespoon of butter in a plate
- Drain the ravioli and put them in the plate, on the butter
- Leave it to melt for one minute and stir so that butter covers all ravioli
- Top with the crushed walnuts
Are you asking yourself what are the good things that come to those who make ravioli? The answer, my friend, is that they eat the ravioli 🙂