Meet your new cool-weather favorite: warm pasta with sweet roasted shallots, tangy blue cheese, and sharp balsamic. This simple meatless dinner is easy to make and packed with flavor.
The deep flavor of blue cheese screams fall. I used stilton, which is an English variety with a tangy, but mild, flavor as far as blue cheeses go. If you like blue cheese, try this grilled steak salad.
I always keep a few boxes of penne in my cabinet because the shape allows for lots of sauce with each bite. This recipe doesn’t have a thick sauce the way you typically think of it, but the pasta water allows for the flavors of each ingredient to meld together for a symphony of flavors.
How to Use Shallots
A type of onion, shallots are much milder in taste and have a hint of garlic. They are typically about 3 inches tall with a copper-colored skin. Shallots should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place like you would store an onion.
Even though they are easy to find in the grocery store, I consider shallots one of my secret specialty ingredients because they aren’t used very often. A little diced shallot can make a major update to a boring recipe.
With their mild flavor, they are great both raw and cooked. I use them raw in salads, dips, and marinades. Cooked, the opportunities are endless, as they can replace onions with a touch of sweetness.
This fun BonAppetit article about shallots came out as I was writing this post, read it to learn more about the allium that gives me heart eyes.
Using Pasta Water
The liquid the pasta has been cooking in, otherwise known as pasta water, pasta juice, or liquid gold, is the chef’s secret for sauces that bind right to the pasta.
This starchy, flavorful water works wonders to create a simple and rich sauce. My recommendation: every time you cook pasta, scoop out about a ½ cup of the liquid before draining the pasta and you’ll have it handy to help bind sauces, loosen cream sauces, or revitalize leftovers. I use my glass measuring cup to make this process quick and easy.
In this recipe, the pasta water, oil, and balsamic are mixed together before the pasta is added. Then, tossing the pasta in this liquid helps it to easily coat each and every noodle.
Did you know that true alfredo doesn’t include cream? Instead, the pasta water combines with parmesan to create a thick and rich sauce that sticks to the fettuccine.
What is Roasting?
When I first started cooking, the lingo was intimidating. Roast, braise, poach… these words are often used without any additional information.
Roasting is a simple method of cooking that uses dry hot air to cook food on all sides at once. Simply put, if you put something on a sheet pan or baking dish and put it in the oven, you’re roasting.
Roasting typically means using a hot oven over 400 degrees, but shallots are delicate and sliced thin for this recipe, so I kept the oven temperature lower to keep them from burning.
Like this Recipe? You May Also Like:
- Mustard and Sausage Pasta
- Strawberry Brie Pasta Salad
- Bleu Cheese Bacon Brioche Burgers
- Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing from my friend Lori
Roasted Shallot Penne
- 5 large shallots peeled and sliced into ¼ inch wedges
- 5 tablespoons olive oil separated
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar separated
- 16 ounces penne
- 1/2 cup mild blue cheese crumbled
- 4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts roughly chopped and toasted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place shallot slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat and season with ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly charred.
- While the shallots cook, cook the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions for al dente. Before draining, reserve ¼ cup of the water from the cooked pasta.
- In a large bowl, combine the reserved pasta water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Mix well and top with the cooked and drained pasta. Toss to coat.
- Add the roasted shallots, blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and parsley. Toss gently to combine and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.