Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January's Ingredient: Penne Pasta

January's Ingredient - Penne Pasta
by, Amber

OK, so Penne Pasta might sound a little boring.  But let me tell you: there are a GAZILLION recipes out there for Penne Pasta and I thought it would be fun to kick off our new 2012 challenge by choosing an ingredient that would be easy, yummy, and totally winter appropriate.  Plus, I just discovered this wonderful version of pasta when I bought it on accident.  I made it for the boys with pasta sauce and ground beef and they (all three of them, this includes my husband) LOVED it.  The noodles were easy to grab with your hand (if you are a 20 mo. old) or poke with a fork (if you are a 4 year old).  They are also sort of meaty little noodles and I like that (if you happen to be a carb addict like me).  One of my favorite things to do for the boys lately is cook some of these up, add a little butter and extra virgin olive oil and toss with Parmesan cheese.  It's so easy and they will eat bowls of this stuff.  If you can't tell, yes, I have been having A LOT of trouble finding things my boys will eat lately.  And by choosing Penne Pasta, I was being a little selfish because this way I'll end up with at least 6 new recipes I can try on the kids.

So I found a recipe that looked really yummy on Punchfork.  Have you discovered this site yet?  If not, please check it out; it is awesome!

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes
From Martha Stewart

Each baking dish serves four; bake one tonight, and freeze the other for a ready-made dinner later on. When ready to cook, bake it straight from the freezer.
Everyday Food, March 2009
  • Prep Time 35 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour
  • Yield Serves 8  


  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  • (Yes I know it doesn't call for Champagne but, well, it WAS just New Years so quit judging me.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Amber's Review:
This was so freaking good.  Asher (the 20 mo. old) loved it, Andy the husband loved it, and although Ansen helped me make it, he absolutely refused to put one single noodle in his mouth but ate all his broccoli.  Oh well, you can't win them all!  I will say that this makes A TON of food.  I baked it all in one big casserole dish but I would recommend you either halve the ingredients or follow as the recipe instructs above by putting it in two containers and saving the other for later.  If you're making dinner for a huge amount of people though, this is your recipe.  By the way, Andy said it tasted just like Fettuccine Alfredo from a restaurant.

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  1. Okay I already have a problem with this new format -- I'm going to want to make all of your recipes instead of coming up with my own! This looks so delicious and yeah, I'm all about finding kid-approved meals right now so penne is perfect. Love your sous chef Ansen and taste-tester Asher. Great first post to kick it off Amber!!

  2. Oh there is NOTHING boring about penne pasta, in fact it’s one of my very favorite foods and my favorite shape of pasta. The hard part will be narrowing down what kind of penne pasta recipe to make … one of my standards or should I try something new? Maybe I’ll do both … stay tuned! Thanks for introducing us to Punchfork and I can’t wait to try your baked penne recipe! Love the pictures of the boys!

  3. Love, love, love Penne. It is even cold in Florida right now so pasta is perfect. I am going to try something new with it for sure.

  4. Yay for Penne! This looks really yummy and and great for a family meal. Love the pictures of your kiddos - so cute! I'm thinking that if I looked that cute in my underoo's, I'd be cooking in them too! ;) Happy New Year, Beauties!

  5. YUM!!!! This looks amazing Amber! I love to see your boys helping you in the kitchen - raising them up right!