Orecchiette with Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce

orecchiette with spinach and gorgonzola sauce

Today I present a supremely easy, light and healthy one-pot pasta dish. Start to finish, I bet you could pull this together in fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s super versatile, too. If you don’t like gorgonzola, use a different kind of cheese! Find a beautiful bunch of chard? Sub chard for the spinach! Add roasted winter vegetables or white beans!

In keeping with the light and simple spirit of this dish, I’ll keep the words to a minimum. A couple of my favorite friends (and their funny mutt, Maybe) are coming to town and staying with Cookie and me this weekend. I’m so eager to shut down the computer and enjoy the company of good friends that I can hardly sit still.

Peach Crest Farms spinach and whole wheat orecchiette

As with any simple dish, quality ingredients are key. Start with whole wheat orecchiette or any small whole wheat pasta (rotini or penne may be easier to find). Seek out the freshest greens possible. This spinach from Peach Crest Farm in Stratford, Oklahoma, puts the regular store brands to shame.

PeachCrest Farms' spinach field

My friend Matt and I actually visited Peach Crest a couple of weeks ago. We plucked spinach leaves straight from the source, glittering with dirt. Best spinach I’ve ever tasted. (I’ll share more about our trip to Peach Crest later.)

dog begging for spinach

The spinach is so good that Cookie literally begged for it. She kept sneaking off with spinach leaves from the table while I was taking pictures!

lemon gorgonzola sauce

Today’s recipe is inspired by a simple recipe I found in the spring section of Vegetables from an Italian Garden. Fortunately James from Peach Crest says he’ll be able to grow spinach all winter long, so I’ll be able to enjoy this meal from now through spring!

orecchiette with steamed spinach

Rather than sautéeing the spinach with shallot in olive oil, I took a shortcut that I picked up while reading Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. The secret to quickly steaming greens for pasta is this: once the pasta is done cooking, just throw the greens into the pot, wait a few seconds, and drain!

Orecchiette with Spinach and Gorgonzola Sauce
4.7 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Entree or Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
I whipped together the gorgonzola sauce using ingredients I had on hand: crumbled gorgonzola cheese, 2% milk, and lemon. I recently encountered a gorgonzola cream sauce that used gorgonzola (duh), cream (duh), and nutmeg (delicious), so you might like to try nutmeg instead of lemon. I think goat cheese would be pretty amazing along with some chopped roasted red pepper, which is not unlike my favorite pasta salad recipe. You could also go with a simple butter and garlic sauce, pasta, and steamed greens!
  • 6 to 8 ounces of spinach (or other fresh greens)
  • 12 ounce package of whole wheat orecchiette (or any other small pasta shape)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or more)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • one lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and cook until al dente, according to the directions on the box.
  2. Rinse off the spinach. If desired, roughly chop your spinach into slightly smaller pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the milk, gorgonzola and the juice of one lemon.
  4. Once the pasta is done cooking, toss in the spinach, stir, and cook for about 10 to 15 seconds . Drain. Drizzle in the olive oil and pour in your gorgonzola sauce. Stir, and enjoy!


    • says

      nooooooooo!!! :(( Please please come to Italy, I would love to be your guide and show you there no trace of alfredo sauce in my country. I say that with love.

  1. Samantha says

    What Italian dish isn’t amazing! Possibly caponatta…although I think I ate pizza, pasta, and their wonderfully simple arugla salad every day for the year I lived in Florence.

  2. Tina says

    LOVE cookbooks! How do you decide your favorite Italian dish when pasta is just so good? I love a healthy dose of spaghetti and meat sauce or lasagna!

  3. says

    We are so often on the same wavelength, you’re right. I actually “canceled” a pear toddy shoot that we wanted to do over Thanksgiving after I saw you post one the same day! I was like oh my gosh! That’s scary! I’ll be using your recipe over the holidays. This looks great too. It’s funny, I almost bought that book yesterday but stopped myself because I have a birthday coming up. I’m glad to hear you love it too :)

  4. jacquie says

    my favorite italian dish is lasagna. though in thinking about it i don’t know how to prepare any vegetables other than eggplant parm which is hardly very healthy nor day to day meal so would love to win the cookbook in order to expand my italian cooking …

  5. Rebecca Fornell says

    I love my fire roasted tomato recipe with pasta
    12 roma tomatoes halved vertically
    1/3 cup EVOO
    6 cloves garlic minced
    1T Italian seasoning
    1 t crushed red pepper
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 t pepper
    Place tomatoes in 9×13 pan cut side up. Mix remaining and spoon over tomatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. In a large bowl mash tomatoes after baking. Serve over a wide pasta noodle with freshly grated cheese

  6. La Perle says

    My favorite Italian dish is Buffalo mozzarella drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil, served with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil!

  7. says

    This looks great! I love a good creamy gorgonzola sauce. My favourite Italian dish? That’s a tough one. I’m a die hard pizza fan (home made, using a stone and paddle) but when I go to an Italian restaurant I almost always order gnocci. I’ve tried my hand at making it at home a few times and have had some success and a couple of epic failures!

  8. rebecca says

    hmmm, that’s a tough one.. i’m gonna have to go with ravioli, preferably filled with ricotta cheese, and tomato sauce! but basically any pasta in a good tomato sauce is good with me :)

  9. says

    My favorite Italian dish (sooo hard to choose just one!) would be stuffed shells with fresh ricotta. There is nothing like making your own ricotta…so tasty!

  10. Alicia says

    Ohhh my gosh fresh spinach… I swear I could sit down and eat a pound of it by myself.

    But, my favorite Italian food? So many good pastas so little time. Eggplant Parm will always hold a warm spot in my heart though.

  11. says

    Oh wow, this book is high on my wish list! I love simple seasonal recipes with fresh local ingredients. My favorite Italian food would have to be risotto. I find it so flexible and comforting, but you can also dress it up with a fancy cheese or other goodie.

  12. says

    my favorite italian dish is something i ate on the shores of positano – not necessarily a “dish” per se but it was freshly smoked buffalo mozzarella with the best tomatoes, arugula, and basil i’ve ever had. so simple and so so so unbelievably good.

  13. Jill says

    My favorite Italian dish right now are lasagna rolls. I love them because you can put anything (including lots of veggies) in them, they are easy to make, and much easier to serve than regular lasagna.

  14. Jacqui says

    I love that cookie likes spinach! What a good little dog : ) My favorite Italian meal is a simple plate of fresh pasta noodles with a roasted tomato sauce. Simple, but always so good! And served with fresh bread and a green salad of coarse.

  15. Shelley says

    I don’t think there is anything better than spaghetti aglio e olio… spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chili pepper… I add lemon, for an extra kick, and a sprinkle of parsley, cause it’s pretty.

    Such a simple but flavorful meal.

  16. says

    What a beautiful recipe!! I’d love to have this book, too. It sounds like it’s right up my alley. My favorite Italian dish? Completely from-scratch fettucine alfredo… fresh pasta included. I could eat my weight in that stuff. And probably double my weight.

  17. says

    This looks absolutely delicious!! I love orrechiette and all simple pasta dishes. The trick about finishing the spinach in the pasta water is brilliant. Oh, Mark Bittman. He never steers me wrong. I would love a copy of this fabulous book! My favorite Italian dish? Although it’s like asking me who my favorite child is, the winner may be Spaghetti Carbonara. And I mean the good stuff, not cream-laden. Does that count even though it has no vegetables? ;-)

  18. Jill Hutmacher says

    I love all things Italian, but would have to say my favorite recipe is eggplant parmigiana- with homemade sauce, pesto and lots of cheese!

  19. Soomin says

    I love simple but delicious bruschetta!

    I didn’t like gorgonzola for a long long time, but recently, I don’t know why, I learn to appreciate the taste of it. so I guess, I’ll give your recipe a try :)

  20. Jeff Blackwell says

    My favorite Italian recipe is spaghetti and meatballs. It’s easy to make and you can always adjust the recipe to your own liking. That and a stiff cocktail hits the spot.

  21. Kate says

    I can’t resist. My favorite Italian dish is very thin spaghetti tossed with fresh, uncooked tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan. Molto buono!

  22. says

    Oh my, I may just make the deadline! Dying to get my hands on that book. I have been eyeing it at the bookshop for months. Veggies rule!! Hope I win :) I could eat Italian food for the rest of my life, favorites being classic like caprese.

  23. says

    i must say that i’m not that well-known with the italian kitchen. my mum always made ‘italian’ pastas by throwing lots of different ingredients into one store-bought tomato sause when i was young. though italian food is about simplicity, about only using a few ingredients, right?
    anyway, would love to get to know the italian kitchen a bit more.
    so my favorite italian dish is one that i dont know yet (cause my moms pastas sure aren’t!).

  24. says

    This dish looks wonderful! My favorite Italian dish is gnocchi. My boyfriend and I made it at home for the first time several years ago with the cookbook open for instructions and flour everywhere. We’ve since made it a number of times, and discovered that ricotta gnocchi is way easier than potato gnocchi.

  25. says

    Hi, Kate,

    Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe — I made it last night, and it was delicious! I added some veggie meat and red pepper flakes, which I thought were great additions. Thanks again!

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