The World According To Penne

Penne pasta is a product of Naples, Italy. The pasta was created to remind the clever Neapolitans of the days when their ancestors dipped feather quilled pens into bottles of ink in order to communicate the written word. Although the pasta has an air of delicacy, it is able to hold its weight from the lightest to the heaviest of sauces.

Deliberating over how to begin a meal, it is not easy unless it happens to be a soup that can be light enough to be served as an appetizer or stand alone as an entree.

Penne Pasta Soup
(Serves 4 bowls or 6 cups)

3-cups swiss chard, julienned(cut into long strips)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1-Tlb. olive oil
3-cups penne pasta
1-medium onion, chopped
4-14oz. cans chicken broth
2-cups water
1-8oz. can Italian tomatoes with basil
2-whole carrots, sliced thin,precooked
1/2-cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. dried basil

Directions: In a dutch over or a soup pot:
Heat the olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic until they are wilted. Add the precooked carrots and the swiss chard. Add the chicken broth and the water. Let the ingredients simmer(medium-low) in the broth until they are tender. Add the cooked penne pasta, the canned Italian tomatoes with basil and the dried basil. Simmer on low for an additional twenty minutes. When all of the ingredients are finished cooking, ladle into soup bowls or soup cups and sprinkle the parmesan cheese on the top of the soup. Serve with Italian bread and some ripe olives.

A rich dense portabella mushroom sauce works well with the delicate balance of penne pasta.

Portabella Mushroom Sauce
(Serves 4)
2-cups portabella mushrooms, sliced
1-medium onion, chopped
2-Tlbs. butter
1-tsp. flour
1-cup half and half
1-tsp. worchestershire sauce
2-Tlb. parsley flakes
1-cup parmasean cheese
1/4-cup red or rose wine
4-cups penne pasta

Directions: Saute the sliced mushrooms and onions until they are tender. Add the worchestershire sauce and the half and half. Stir the ingredients and then add the red or rose wine and the parsley flakes. Boil the penne pasta in salted water and drain it in a strainer.After the pasta is drained put into an oiled baking dish and pour the mushroom sauce over it. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.

A ham and cheese sauce is for those times when a meal needs to be prepared in a hurry.

Ham And Cheese Sauce

2-cups ham, precooked
1-cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2-cup parmesan cheese
2-cups half and half
2-Tlb. butter
1-Tlb. all purpose flour
1/2-cup frozen English peas
4-cups penne pasta, parboiled

Directions: Line the bottom of a medium sized baking dish with foil and brush it with some olive oil. In a saucepan: Combine the butter and the flour. After it is incorporated add the half and half and the two cheeses. Stir until the ingredients are of a sauce consistency. In a baking dish: Arrange the penne pasta and mix in the ham and the peas. Pour the cheese sauce over the ingredients. Cover the ingredients with foil and bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.

A penne pasta salad is a topic of debate over whether to use fresh plum tomatoes, a favorite brand of canned plum ones, or the sweetness of the sun dried. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, any type of plum tomato will do.

Penne Pasta Salad
(Serves 4)

4-cups penne pasta, precooked
2-green onions, chopped
1-Tablespoon parsley flakes
3/4-cup plum tomatoes (canned or sun dried)
1/2-cup ripe olives
1/2-cup roasted red bell peppers
3-Tlb olive oil
2-Tlb red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Rub a salad bowl with a clove of garlic.Combine all of the salad ingredients.Whisk the olive oil and the red wine vinegar. Season the pasta salad with the salt and the pepper. Combine the vinaigrette dressing with the ingredients.Refrigerate the pasta salad for thirty minutes.

A light finish to a penne pasta meal is a simple fruit salad made with oranges, freshly chopped mint and toasted coconut.

Orange Mint Fruit Salad
(Serves 4)

4-cups sliced oranges
2-mint leaves, finely chopped
1-cup toasted coconut
1-anisette cookie for a garnish

Directions: Lightly combine the fruit salad ingredients and then spoon the fruit salad in individual bowls with with an anisette cookie as a garnish

Cooking since the age of fifteen, the author has always loved the cuisine of Italy.

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