Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Bleu Cheese Penne has bold flavors that pair perfectly with bleu cheese. There's nothing subtle about this dish!
Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.
~~ M.F.K. Fisher, preeminent American food writer
What's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of bleu cheese? Why, wine of course! 😆 Well, I am able to think of quite a few pairings that make my mouth dance: Bleu cheese and walnuts, bleu cheese and caramelized onions, bleu cheese and thyme... Take Me to the Recipe!
Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, & Bleu Cheese Penne brings these luscious ingredients together in a glorious cacophony of flavors. My mind does naturally go to wine when I think of bleu cheese, and it is not an easy pairing.
Bleu cheese is rich, salty, and a bit dank, and I guess an off-dry and somewhat acidic white is a "proper" choice with a hunk of bleu cheese. I'm not inclined to keep them in my wine rack, and with the strong and complex flavors of the dish, I'd not recommend a bold, full-bodied red wine (ie. cabernet sauvignon).
All that to say, pairing is tough with a dish like Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Bleu Cheese Penne. We enjoyed a bottle of Lawrence Dunham 2013 Sky Island Viognier with this pasta dish; it's dry, crisp, and light. My suggestion on this one is to go with whatever wine sounds good. 😉
Last month when I went back to Las Cruces to visit, my kids suggested we make "that bleu cheese pasta." I had to laugh at myself. It was several months ago that I made Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and Bleu Cheese Penne several times because I wanted to post the recipe. Lol.
I completely forgot about it with our move and subsequent internet issues. Fortunately, I had a few notes, but I felt like I needed to make it a couple more times... We just had to suffer through the experience!
My husband Mark likes to prompt me to suggest substitutions, and I typically include them. In this case, however, the specific combination of flavors is what makes this dish "work." Roasting the broccoli with just a bit of grated parmesan is key; substituting "kale" (my husband's idea) would fall short. Replace the bleu cheese? Please do not! If you just can't stomach bleu cheese, leave it out; it is still a good dish. I'd hate to have you miss the bleu cheese/toasted walnuts, bleu cheese/caramelized onions, bleu cheese/sherry perfect pairings! In all honesty, I'd not miss the chicken, but I don't want to see #wherestheprotein when I post the recipe. 😯 I will include #meatlessmondays.
My work flow goes something like this: Get the broccoli prepped and roasting. Start the onions caramelizing, then put the pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Cube the chicken and add to the onions, stir the roasting broccoli, and complete the sauce but do not add the bleu cheese.
When the broccoli is tender, and the pasta is al denté, combine it all in your large sauté pan or pasta bowl. Fold in the crumbled bleu cheese just prior to serving so that it only melts slightly and doesn't incorporate into the mixture. Serve hot or just warm. As I mention in the notes, this is a super flavorful vegetarian dish with the omission of the chicken breast.
I'm taking an informal survey... how many of you love bleu cheese?
P.S. If you're looking for more wine-cheese pairings, you'll love The Ultimate Shopping List of Cheeses for Wine Lovers!