Sue Quinn showcases the usefulness of chocolate as a savoury spice
Many people forget that it is only the addition of sugar that makes chocolate sweet—imaginative cooks, especially in Italy, have been using it as a spice for centuries, including in pasta. The chocolate imparts a delicate bitterness that works beautifully with gorgonzola, or with a sage, butter and parmesan sauce, or even with chopped and fried bacon or porcini.
220g dried tagliatelle
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
80ml double cream
3 tbsp dry white wine
100g gorgonzola, chopped, plus extra (chopped) to serve
40g parmesan cheese, grated
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dark chocolate (100 per cent cocoa solids), for grating, or about 1 tsp cacao nibs, finely blitzed in a spice grinder
Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and roast for 10 mins, shaking the sheet halfway through, until lightly toasted. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
While the nuts are roasting, prepare the pasta and sauce. Cook the tagliatelle in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 min less than the packet instructions. Meanwhile, place the butter, garlic and rosemary in a small frying pan and cook over a medium-low heat until everything is gently sizzling and smelling delicious. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the cream, wine and 60ml pasta cooking water and gently bubble away for 1 min or so. Add the gorgonzola and parmesan and cook gently, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Add more pasta water if needed to make a loose but creamy sauce. Add the lemon zest and a good grinding of black pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like.
When the pasta is cooked, lightly drain, reserving a good splosh of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pan. Add the sauce and quickly toss together, then fold in most of the roasted nuts, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if necessary, to loosen.
Serve topped with more gorgonzola, the remaining walnuts and a generous grating of chocolate or finely blitzed cacao nibs.
Recipe: Sue Quinn
Image: Yuki Sugiura