August 3 was my mother's birthday (yup this post is a bit belated), for the past few years I've made a point to cook whatever she requests for her because for the last twenty something years she's done the same for me. This year was no exception, actually it was quite the homecoming of sorts since it was the first time in five years that mom, dad, my sister and I have all be in the same country for her birthday.
Mom has always liked the Penne Rustica at Macaroni Grill, who can blame her, shrimp, prosciutto, cream sauce...damn what a way to serve pasta! So this year she requested that I make a pasta dish similar to Penne Rustica, so I set to work...yes there are a few short cuts in here, I didn't make my own alfredo sauce, but I did substantially improve on the store bought stuff!
Mom's Birthday Penne
1/2 Cup White Wine
2 Tbsp Butter
5 slices Pancetta
2 lbs Chicken Tenders
6 oz Mushrooms
6 oz Roasted Red Bell Pepper Strips (from jar)
8 oz Artichoke Hearts (from can)
Rosemary (for garnish)
12 oz Alfredo Sauce
1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp White Pepper
1/2 lb White Penne
1/2 lb Red Penne
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
6 oz shredded romano cheese
1. Slice pancetta into small bite-sized pieces, saute until crisp in skillet. Remove from pan and set aside
2. Cut chicken tenders into thirds, saute in oil from pancetta and season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Remove chicken from skillet, place in bottom of a 13 x9 casserole dish with the pancetta.
2. In the same pan, sautee mushrooms in butter, until almost tender. Add sliced red bell pepper to skillet, saute 1 minute.
3. In a large sauce pan, add alfredo sauce, add white wine, mix until well combined. Season with nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne pepper and 1/4 cup of each of the cheeses. Allow to come up to a simmer.
4. While the sauce is simmering, boil pasta until al dente. Preheat oven to 350 F.
5. Drain pasta, place in casserole dish with meat, mix and add vegetables so they are evenly distributed. Pour alfredo sauce over the pasta, meat and vegetable mix. Sprinkle liberally with a mix of the romano and mozzarella cheeses.
6. Bake until brown and bubbling.
Mom loved my version of the Rustica. For dessert we had vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting! Happy Belated B-day to my Mom!
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