Penne with Gorgonzola, Walnuts, and Spinach

Yield: Serves 4

When selecting a Gorgonzola for this dish, be sure to get one that is young and firm as opposed to one more aged, soft, and pungent. Heating accentuates flavors and aromas, so an older Gorgonzola will be too pungent and will overwhelm all the other flavors. This is a good lunchtime dish; it is rich and flavorful but still light, and can be put together in about 20 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 8 ounces dry penne
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh savory leaves
  • 3 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, broken or cut into chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon


The Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the walnut halves on a baking pan and toast in the oven about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring with a spatula halfway through. Take care not to brown the walnuts, as it will produce a bitter flavor. Remove the walnuts from the oven, allow them to cool, and reserve. In a large stockpot, over high heat, bring approximately 4 quarts of water to a boil ad add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the penne and cook al dente, according to the manufacturer's directions. Drain the pasta in a colander. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, combine the stock, butter, and savory leaves. Cook until the butter is completely dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, then he spinach, and cook about 1 minute longer. Add the cooked penne and about three quarters of the cheese, reserving a little to crumble over the pasta as a garnish, and heat through, about 1 minute. (The Gorgonzola should not completely melt.)

Adjust the seasoning to taste with kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice. Divide the penne among 4 large, warm soup plates. Spoon the sauce over, equally dividing walnuts and spinach leaves among the plates. Crumble reserved Gorgonzola over and serve immediately.

Lemon Meringue Tart with Champagne Vinegar Sauce

Yield: one 10-inch tart

This is certainly not to be confused with the standard mile-high lemon meringue tart with the cornstarch-thickened lemon filling. Our meringue tart is thin, elegant, sleek, and compact.

If you are lucky enough to find Meyer lemons, use them: they have a slightly more refined and gentle flavor than the other lemons. The meringue wedges may be made up to 2 days in advance. It is best to store them in an airtight container with parchment paper (see direction below) still attached.


  • 1 cup lightly packed powdered sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (from 10 large lemons)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


To prepare the meringue: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper 10-inches in diameter. Fold the circle into eighths, cut into 8 individual wedges, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the powdered sugar and egg whites. Whisk until smooth and warm to the touch, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the mixing bowl from the heat, push the flour through a fine-mesh, stainless-steel strainer into the egg white mixture, and whisk to combine completely. Distribute the wedges of parchment paper on a smooth work surface. Using an offset spatula, spread the meringue in an 1/8-inch- thick layer over each wedge of parchment paper, taking care to completely coverthe parchment, so that when the paper is lifted from the work surface, a perfect wedge shape of meringue will be formed. Distribute the wedges on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake until the meringue rises and the top is smooth, shiny, and lightly brown, about 10 minutes.

To test for doneness, peel the paper away from the meringue. The paper should separate cleanly. When the meringue wedges are done, allow them to cool, peel off and discard the paper, and reserve the meringue wedges. To prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees, and adjust the rack to the middle position.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the lemon juice and the sugar, and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. In a large, stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and cream, just to combine.

Remove the lemon juice and sugar mixture from the heat. Slowly ad it to the mixing bowl containing the egg-and-cream mixture, and whisk to incorporate completely. Using a fine-mesh, stainless-steel strainer, strain the custard into a second large mixing bowl.

Pour the custard into the prebaked tart shell and bake until the center still jiggles a bit when gently shaken, about 30 to 40 minutes.Remove the tart from the oven, and allow to cool about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the tart ring. Using a sharp knife, cut the tart in wedges that are the same size as the pieces of meringue. Place each piece of tart on a dessert plate and top with a meringue wedge. Spoon a few tablespoons of Champagne Vinegar Sauce next to each portion and serve immediately.

Recipe from Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton's The Food of Campanile
© 1997 by Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton. All rights reserved