September 18, 2013 at 6:43 am

Let's Talk Food: Special occasion pasta

My brother developed Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta for our mom's birthday. What's your special pasta dish? (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

My youngest brother Baron is quirkily hilarious and a terrific cook. For Mom’s birthday last month, he whipped up a Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta with Basil. Spurred by her rave review, my husband and I made it last weekend, and it’s to die for.

Since he’s 14 years younger than I am, Baron and I didn’t have too many years living under the same roof; he actually came to mind when I was writing yesterday’s Let’s Talk Food (memories): Babies in the kitchen. When he was maybe 2, I remember my brother crouching so close to our father, who was working on a difficult project under the kitchen sink, that Dad lost his frustration as he joked, “You got a good enough view there, Baron?”

As an adult, Baron is more intentionally funny. You want to be careful drinking around him; he’ll just come out of nowhere with things that will make you do a spit take.

“Cat in the Hat? MAN,” he said once, shaking his head. “story of my life.

In addition to being funny, he’s sensitive, family-oriented, and a great, creative cook. He’s the kind of guy who can root around in the fridge and whip up something fantastic, as he did with angel-hair spaghetti for Mom’s birthday.

I dig that about pasta; it can go weeknight or be fancied up for a special occasion. And as Mom promised when she bragged on it originally, Baron’s spaghetti dish is delicious. Additionally, it’s a great way to use up any gorgonzola you might have hanging around from making last week’s Buffalo Chicken Dip — or an excuse to buy more.

In my case, it was an excuse to connect with my brother Baron, and that was just as much a reward as the meal itself.

Baron's Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta with Basil

After I got the recipe out of Baron, my husband and I made this last weekend. The classic flavors of garlic and basil pair nicely with the surprise of the gorgonzola cheese.

Calorie-saving tip: I did mine with tofugetti, since I can’t practice any kind of boundaries with “real” pasta. If you’re looking to cut calories, tofugetti is your friend — there are 40 calories in a package of angel-hair tofugetti, versus 200 calories in a serving of regular angel-hair spaghetti.

3 garlic cloves
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 package angel hair pasta
Olive oil
1 tablespoon dried Italian spices
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup half & half
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
13 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
16 oz chopped broccoli, slightly underdone

Mince garlic, set aside. Chop about 13 cup of basil and also set aside.

Cook angel hair until al dente (slightly underdone).

While the noodles are boiling, put enough olive oil in to cover the bottom of a large sauce pan. Simmer garlic for a couple of minutes toward the end of boiling process.

Drain pasta and put it in the saucepan used for simmering the garlic. Mix until pasta is covered by oil.

Add basil, dried Italian spices and salt and pepper to taste, then add half and half, Gorgonzola and Parmesan.

Mix together, turn up to medium and cover, stirring every few minutes until cheese has melted down on pasta.

Uncover and add cooked, shredded chicken and slightly undercooked chopped broccoli. Mix together and turn heat off. Garnish with a bit of basil and gorgonzola if you like, serve and enjoy. Enough for eight modest servings (but I’m not going to lie: made four for my husband).

Baron also doctored up some French bread from a local bakery for Mom’s birthday: Cut in half and slice down the middle and place crust-side down on a cookie sheet. exposing inside of bread. Melt 3 tablespoons butter with a minced garlic clove or two in coffee mug in microwave until melted. Brush onto bread and sprinkle dried Italian spices and grated Parmesan cheese or mozzarella. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook until edges/cheese are slightly browned.

Enjoy!

Have you classed up pasta for a special occasion? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re free and easy to sign up for, which is how I managed to have one for years and ignore it except for this sort of thing. I’ll be keeping an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow me on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!