So I decided to try chocolate pasta again. If you’re unfamiliar with my horrendous first experience with chocolate pasta, read about it here.
What’s changed since last time? I had a recipe. I found it in my cookbook Melt by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord. I decided I’d trust them and their recipe because I loved their chorizo macaroni and cheese. Last time I didn’t have a recipe and I was just winging it. But this time, maybe things would be different. Maybe the flavor combinations would be delicious. Maybe the pasta would redeem itself and not taste so nasty. Maybe I could eat a whole bowl.
And I did eat the whole bowl! And it was pretty good!
One thing that made this version better is that I bought the gluten-full pasta. Last time I accidentally bought gluten-free, and I think that must give the pasta a different flavor. Last time the pasta was gummy and really bitter. This time it had the expected pasta texture and had only a slight bitter hint. Last time, the pasta made the whole apartment smell like delicious chocolate. This time, there was hardly any fragrance. I don’t know exactly why there was a difference, but there definitely was one.
But, what really made this recipe tasty and interesting was the combination of flavors. It has sweetness in the cherries, salty and creaminess from the cheese, and a nice crunch from the arugula and hazelnuts. By the authors’ own admission this recipe is a bit “esoteric,” but I think it was fun to try something a little bit unusual. This recipe is a simple way to spice up the mid-week meal. And to conclude, I’ll just go out on a limb and say it, chocolate pasta is back in my good graces.
This recipe is from the cookbook Melt. I made some adaptations based on the amount of money and time I wanted to spend finding ingredients. Instead of hazelnut oil I used olive oil and I omitted the cocoa nibs.
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp mustard powder
ground black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces chocolate pasta
5 ounces Bucherondin, roughly broken (I found this easily at Whole Foods, but you can use any soft goat cheese)
1 cup pitted cherries
2 cups whole arugula
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a small bowl (or jar with a little) mix together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Whisk (or shake) until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
3. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the skins darken and blister. The nuts will start to smell nice.
4. While the hazelnuts are roasting, start the pasta. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente.
4. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and wrap them in a dishtowel and leave them to steam for 1 minute. Rub the nuts in the dishtowel to rub the skins off.
5. Roughly chop the nuts and set them aside.
6. When the pasta is done drain it. Arrange portions into separate bowls.
7. Scatter the Bucherondin, cherries, and hazelnuts over the pasta. Mix in the arugula. Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta.
Messy level: Three spoons. This recipe is messy because pitting cherries is a little annoying, crumbling cheese is sticky, and the hazelnut skins will get everywhere. It’s not such an unruly messy, but I want you to know what you’re getting into.