Monday, March 22, 2010

Pasta Fantastic!

On Sundays we all eat dinner as a family, no ifs, ands or buts! Friends are always welcome, but it is the one day we can usually all manage to sit down together. Sometimes we order in, depending on how the day went and sometimes I experiment on those poor unsuspecting souls! Mostly they are ok with my experiments. They are particular about cheese, they didn't love the cream sauce stage I went through a few years back. But for the most part will try anything once. Except for Miss Picky. She presents a challenge. Not a good taster at all, not even a bite, unless we resort to bribery. It works. Sometimes. She wouldn't admit to liking something new anyway, just because. Usually. This time she did. They all did. Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. It was a pasta dish that was fantastic! Really!

If you know me by now, you know I have yet to follow directions exactly. So I didn't have whole milk. I used 1% milk and it was fine. It was also kind of lumpy when I tried to add all that flour to the butter, and then the milk, so I used a stick blender to whiz it up when it made the milk lumpy. really lumpy. Worked fine, no lumps :) I still don't get why I needed to add those extra tablespoons of flour. It's cooking not baking, not an exact science?  It thickened up fine without them. Sometimes I luck out and do well in spite of rushing at the last minute to come up with a good dinner. This was one of those times. This will be added to the hit list!

Ready to bake...

Fresh from the oven...

Ready to eat...

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food, January 2009
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 -- I sliced them in small bite-size pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk -- I used 1% 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) -- I used shredded mozzarella
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

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.

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.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.

Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish; sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Make ahead: You can also freeze it for a ready-made dinner another time. When ready to cook, bake it straight from the freezer, covered in foil. Prepare it as directed, but do not bake it; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months. When ready to use it, preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.


  1. Glad to see you have survived the storm! With that combination, who wouldn't love this pasta dish! I have everything on hand except the Provolone, but I do have mozzarella. I think that will be dinner Wednesday or Thursday. Thanks for the post.

  2. Yummy! If it's pasta it's yummy.

  3. Looks so good! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is a real treat! My daughter loves pasta and I am going to try this.

    I hope you are all settled after the storm.

  5. Love Sunday dinners. When my son was in high school and so busy, Sunday night was always the dinner we had together.

    Pasta looks awesome.

  6. I remember our Sunday night dinners when I was a kid.. I applaud you can still do it with the ages of your kids!!

  7. I envy your Sunday dinners with your family, Carol. We used to have them here too while the grandparents were able to attend.

    I love pasta! How I wish I could eat it every day. This recipe looks sooooo good.

  8. That looks very good! You can make that for me! :)
    Glad you are coming back to life...
    Not nice today though!

  9. Ohhhh! That looks yummy! Love that combination! Happy week!...Debbie

  10. We did Sunday dinners together for years Now we make an effort to eat together at least one time during the weekend. As the grandchildren have more activities, classes, birthday parties, etc., it's becoming more difficult, but it does remain a goal for all of us.

    Isn't it wonderful when you try something new ( or old) and everyone is pleased. :)

  11. Yummy, and with the crunchy top-makes it double yummy!
    The Sunday dinners of my childhood always were chicken in some form or another.

  12. This looks so very good and I will have to try it! Love the looks of it straight from the oven! Yum!

  13. I can see why the family enjoyed this meal. Like you, I have yet to follow directions-which may explain why my baking skills are not up to par. :-)

    I love Sunday meals.

  14. Carol, how I love a family dinner. I have the same cookbook, as you know, and I was just looking through it. I will love this dinner! Thanks for letting us know it is a winner.

  15. I love baked pasta! This looks so delicious! I will have to save it.

  16. That looks like such good comfort food! I get the MS Everyday Food magazine and I like most of the recipes in it as most are quick and delicious.

  17. It;s 6:30 AM here and I now want this for my breakfast:) What's wrong with me when I want pasta for breakfast? This looks delicious and guess what we are having tonight?

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  19. Great looking pasta dish that I will have to try! I love how you can perfect results even while not following directions, LOL!


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