Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Pasta Night!!

We're fans of carbs in this house. Pasta being one of the faves. This week, it was time to up the ante on Friday Night Dinners (i.e. not ordering in) and try an indulgent pasta. I adapted our version from a Penne Vodka recipe. Since I left out the vodka and some other steps, I'll call it Chunky Creamy Tomato Penne. Not attractive sounding at all. But still tasty.

As usual, I start with the pot base. Heat up some olive oil (3 tablespoons should do it).
  • 1 diced onion (smaller dice)
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup pancetta 
  • red pepper flakes for heat

Sautee until the onions are translucent.  Then add 2 (28 oz.) cans of whole tomatoes - crush with your spoon in the pot or do like me and cut them into quarters out of the can. Put the juice aside for another day. Add dry herbs (oregano or basil).

Usually I buy Muir Glen and this time I went with San Marzano which is supposed to be a specific certified tomato from Italy (like Champagne from France). Did it taste better? I'm still not sure.

Place your oven safe pot (or pan) with the lid in a 375F oven for 1-1.5 hours to allow tomatoes to roast. Again not sure of the benefits here v. simmering on the stove. I guess since there isn't much liquid it makes sense to use the oven instead. During the 1 hour, I cleaned up. Also, make your pasta al dente. Don't forget to salt the water - it really makes a difference!

Meanwhile, prep your toppings: fresh basil and grated parm (1/2 cup for the sauce and whatever else you need for topping later).

To make our meal slightly more healthy, I made a simple tomato cucumber salad dressed in Paul Newman's Caesar dressing. Mmm.

Now, take the pot back onto the stove. Add heavy cream. I used half and half trying to be "healthy" but ended up using probably more than if I used heavy cream. So. Just do it. Accept that this is not your healthy pasta dish. Add a little at a time and stir until a creamy orange.

Add the 1/2 cup of grated parmegiano reggiano. This really makes the sauce chunky and cheesy.

Finally add back your pasta to reheat. Stir. Don't forget to salt & pepper to taste!

And finally your toppings - fresh chopped basil and...more CHEESE! Uuuunnggggghhhh.

Next time, I'll be less lazy and follow the recipe as it's written - as a blended vodka sauce. But this time, it was just too much extra work (buying vodka, blending / cleaning blender).  I'd also add heavy cream instead of half and half and bacon instead of pancetta because I like a smokier flavor. Baaaacon.

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1-1.5 hours (mostly in oven)
Clean Time: 30 min (during Cook Time)
Total Time: 1.5-2 hours till pasta madness

I'm hungry now. Time to dig into those leftovers.


lavenderpug said...

that looks amazing! i like the idea of roasting the tomatoes.

Annie said...

ha ha you know I like this dish. ;) Maybe the next Thanksgiving dish? Remember how the one I made two years ago Ryan couldn't have b/c it had nuts! Oh man...I felt bad.

Katie said...

Ummmm yum? I really want! Delicious.