Take a deep breath. . .
and DIVE. IN.
This pasta totally makes up for everything Tuesday’s post lacks.
It seriously would be a difficult decision for me if I were faced with having to choose between chocolate bundt cake and this here pasta.
And we all know how I feel about sweets.
A pasta that rivals dessert? In my book?
I love it almost as much – ok – just as much as pizza.
And guess what?
It’s really easy to make.
And you can make it ahead.
And it’s so freaking delicious that it’s totally company food, and baby shower food, and bridal shower food, and knock-your-socks off, “man you’re a good cook!” food.
It’s a back pocket recipe, folks! Keep it there, and pull it out when the need arises to impress someone.
Your future spouse.
Your neighbors that just had a new baby. . . .
There is a tiny back story to this pasta.
Years ago we were invited to brunch at some dear friends’ house.
They made this pasta.
I’m not sure if it was the exact thing, but theirs was also heavenly.
She shared the recipe with me, and I treated it like gold.
I only made it a couple of times – because it was so delicious I considered it special occasion food.
Then I lost the recipe.
I might have actually shed tears.
And possibly been grouchy for a couple of days once I realized it was gone.
Then my mom gave me this cookbook for Christmas, and when I flipped to the page for this pasta my heart skipped a beat.
It was the same one.
I might have squealed.
Pasta, I’m so happy you’re back.
And there’s no way I’m losing a whole darn cookbook – you’re here to stay.
Six Cheese Penne Rigate Pasta
1 Cup heavy cream
3/4 Cup half and half
1 Cup crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1/2 Cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1.5 ounces)
1/2 Cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan (1.5 ounces)
1/2 Cup shredded imported Italian fontina (1.5 ounces)
1/4 Cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1.5 ounces)
2 heaping tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
6 basil leaves, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1 scallion, sliced
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a stockpot.
Combine all the ingredients except the penne and the scallions in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Drop the penne into the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly, and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
Pour pasta into a 9″x13″ baking dish. (I divided mine between two 2 quart dishes, and you can also divide it between six individual casserole dishes and adjust the cooking time).
Cook, covered with foil, in 450 degree oven for 7-10 minutes (the shorter time for smaller dishes). Remove foil, stir, and bake uncovered for 7-10 minutes more or until top is golden and sauce is bubbly around the edges.
Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes. Top with sliced scallions before serving.
Note – This pasta can be made ahead. Just refrigerate, covered until about an hour before you’re ready to start cooking it. Before putting it in the oven, stir to mix the cheese and sauce evenly over the pasta. Then continue baking as directed.
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style, “Penne with Five Cheeses”.