Conchigliette con salsa di gorgonzola, pistacchi e cognac

Small shells with gorgonzola, pistachios and brandy

This sauce is made up of some unlikely ingredients, but the result is one of the best sauces ever. The pistachios needed here are the fresh nuts in their green skin.


  • 75 g/ oz/generous ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 350 g/12 oz small pasta shells
  • 50 g/ oz/4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 200 g/7 oz Gorgonzola cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz/ cup double (heavy) cream
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the pistachio nuts in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 2–3 minutes, and then drain and dry them with kitchen paper. Remove as much as you can of the skin and then pound the nuts with a mortar and pestle or blitz them in a food processor.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter with the cheese, stirring constantly, without letting the mixture come to the boil. As soon as they have melted, add the cream and cook very gently for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the pistachios and brandy. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving a cupful of the water. Turn the pasta into a warmed bowl or back into the pot in which it has cooked and mix in the sauce. If necessary, add 2–3 tablespoons of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Serve at once.