Monday, January 2, 2012

Goat Cheese Apple Walnut Pasta – Suspect Supper Turns into Super Side Dish

It sounded so good on paper. Yes, this creamy, tangy goat cheese sauce, spiked with sweet apples and walnuts was going to make quite the memorable winter pasta dinner. The only problem was, halfway through the bowl I suffered that most dreaded of all pasta eating afflictions…palate fatigue.

For whatever reason, after three or four ounces of this perfectly fine concoction, I got tired of eating it. It wasn’t that it started to taste bad; it just became a little tedious. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, especially with a bowl of macaroni.

However, instead of declaring my goat cheese, apple, walnut pasta entrée idea a failure, I decided to cleverly re-brand it as a tasty, seasonal side dish. The same exact recipe that fell a little flat as a main course, turned out to be a stellar side for some roast pork.

Of course, with taste being as subjective as it is, maybe you’ll have a different opinion as to this pasta’s worthiness as a headliner, but I wanted to be clear about my official recommendation. Even simply adding some slices of cooked chicken breast would have transformed the dish into something a little less “one-note.”

By the way, this isn’t something to make way ahead of time, as the walnuts react with the dairy in the sauce, and will turn your leftovers a fairly disturbing purple-blue color! If you’re not going to eat this immediately, then don’t mix in the nuts until service. I hope you give this great winter pasta…err, I mean side dish, a try soon. Enjoy!

2 cups ditalini, or other small macaroni
1 tbsp butter
1 apple, diced
1 cup chicken broth
4 oz fresh creamy-style goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much John. Really enjoy the video's and the time you take to make them. I like that regular people like me are able to pick up cooking and enjoy it.

Wish you a great new year and I hope to see more of your video's and learn to cook better with the new year!!!


Anonymous said...

can you please demo the crabcake benedict?

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I don't like goat's cheese, can I use something else?

am said...

hello chef john , i live near rocamadour, in France, and if there is something we do not lack here it is walnuts and goat cheese - trust you to come up with a perfect recipe which i will try as soon as i get hold of some pasta ;-)
thank you and best wishes for the new year

alana barton said...

This reminds me of the grilled cheese and apple sandwich I had at the farmers market. I would love to make this recipe and maybe toss in a couple of greens.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John, how about adding some capers at the end? I think these little flavor bombs could add interesting highlights to the base-flavor of this very nice dish.

Love your videos! - Wolfgang

Chef John said...

That could work!

Anonymous said...

perhaps some leftover goose... (or diced ham)

Our pre-cooked, Christmas goose (the roasted variety) was amazing, thank you.

Anonymous said...

perhaps some leftover goose... (or diced ham)

Our pre-cooked, Christmas goose (the roasted variety) was amazing, thank you.

Steve said...


I wonder if the palate fatigue was due more to the pasta you used rather than the sauce.

I'm thinking that maybe this would work better with a pasta that could hand onto more of the sauce. The ditalini seem just a bit "meh" to me.

S. Alessio Tummolillo said...


I live in Switzerland and this reminds me a little bit of the Swiss-pasta dish Aelplermagronen, which is definitely an entree.

Maybe use apple sauce instead? And a cheese sauce possibly?

Lea said...

I found this made an extreemly delicious sophisticated
"mac'n'cheese" for lunch - my husband loved it (and he's pretty picky). A wonderful lunch idea too!

Lea said...

This made an easy and elegant "mac 'n' cheese for lunch. My husband loved it and he can be pretty picky. Not only great as a side dish, but it makes a wonderful lunch w/ side salad! Thank you!!

Liz said...

I have to be honest, I actually tried it.... and I think I bought a bad goat cheese bc taste sooooo strong.

But because I looooove goat cheese, I have to give it a 2nd try, I'm sure this is an excelent recipe.

Amanda said...

What about adding caramelized onions? Do you think that would add enough interest to make it entree-worthy? Or maybe sage? Oooh, or some kind of winter squash?

Aishen said...

Just made this pasta. (I did use herbed creamy goat cheese instead of plain) It has a very interesting taste. :) Not bad.. but i understand the 'taste fatigue'.. good thing we're havin it w/ grilled chicken. :)

Bob Beckes said...

Chef -- thanks for the jumpstart. I modified this a bit based on things I had available. Cut the pasta in half and added a small eggplant, diced and sauteed. And since I'm not crazy about walnuts I toasted some pine nuts and added them instead. Glommed everything together and put in a baking dish. Topped with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated romano cheese. Baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. Yummy!

Chef John said...

Sounds great!

david t said...

Tried this last night, what a success!
Really easy and delicious (if you like goat cheese, duh!)
I added some left over chicken breast I had in the fridge to add some extra volume.
Very happy I opted for the more expensive goat cheese. Tasted much smoother and creamier than those cheaper overly strong tasting goat cheeses.
I agree that it makes a better side dish than an entre/main course as the cheese eventually gets to you.
Also leftovers today for lunch not as good since the apples no longer have that slight crunch.
Thanks Chef John!