This Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce has just evolved over the last few years.
I never even thought to write up the recipe, it’s so simple. In 2011, I originally posted our favourite French summer classic, Warm Goat Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud). It’s more of an assembly job of good ingredients than a recipe but there are a few tips I picked up when I first moved to France in 1992 that I talk about here. So, how did it turn into a deliciously clingy pasta sauce?
A French Salad without the Salad!
We love the salad version, but we often find salads difficult to digest in the evening (I also have IBS, so huge salads are not ideal). Outside the summer months, we also don’t feel like salad. Enough said.
It’s a Salade de Chèvre Chaud without the salad – although place some small spinach leaves on the bottom of each plate if you still want your greens. The heat of the pasta slightly wilts them.
Best Goat Cheese to Use
Like the salad version, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. The best kind of goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol (from the charming little Loire village that also boasts some remarkable Sancerre wines from the famous town up the road) made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru).
In some of the touristy brasseries in Paris, watch out for the cheap’n’nasty stuff; the other day I was served a sickly sweet version with a thick layer of fig jam spread on Poilâne bread, then topped with the cheapest supermarket goat cheese that was bitter and didn’t like being melted (incidentally, fig jam is best served separately with a cheese board – just saying. So if you see fig jam included – AVOID IT!). Sitting on top of a ridiculous amount of green salad without much dressing, this seriously gives our visitors to France the wrong idea of the classic dish.
Needless to say, it gets my goat. Stick to garlic, olive oil, good cheese, herbs and walnuts.
The Extra Tips that Make the Perfect French Goat’s Cheese Dish
As with the salad version, I gently fry garlic in olive oil, add chopped fresh rosemary from the garden, melt in the cheese, toast some walnuts either in another frying pan (dry fry) or quickly under the grill to toss on top and by the time I cook the fresh pasta for a couple of minutes and toss it in the sauce with a bit of cream, dinner is ready as soon as we’ve opened the wine!
If you love goat cheese and are not keen on salads, then make this sauce with pasta next time. It’s the taste of French summer on a plate that can be enjoyed at any time of year.
Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce
My saucy take on the French classic, Salade de Chèvre Chaud, with toasted walnuts and rosemary to create a delicious creamy goat cheese pasta sauce. Serve with fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti or fusilli - and add some fried bacon bits if you're feeling extra decadent.
- 2 tbsp walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic peeled, core removed & chopped finely
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 (60g small cheeses) Crottins de Chavignol or good quality matured goat cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or thyme) finely chopped (or herbes de Provence)
- 115 g (4oz) half fat cream (crème fleurette)
- 100 g (3.5oz) lardons/bacon bits OPTIONAL
- 250 g (9oz) fresh pasta
- handful fresh spinach leaves optional
Toast the walnuts under the grill for a couple of minutes (keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to burn) or dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan. Set aside.
Gently fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute but don't brown (it will otherwise turn bitter). Add the fresh herbs then chopped goat cheese and leave it to melt then add the cream, plus salt and ground pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to packet instructions. I prefer using fresh pasta which only takes a couple of minutes but if you use dried pasta, prepare the pasta more in advance or take the sauce off the heat so as not to overcook.
Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce, sprinkling over the toasted walnuts.
Good matching wines: Sauvignon Blanc or fruitier Chenin Blanc, ideally from the Loire (the goat cheese is from the same region). The result is a creamy, almost honey-like taste that marries to well together.
Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Goat Cheese & Walnut pasta sauce? Please don’t be shy; leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – I love to see you making the recipes!