Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pasta with tomato cream sauce: Penne a la Betsey

I've heard ravings about this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and I have been wanting to try it for a while now. With Graham out of town, it was practically meant for me to make it! I ate this Friday night before my school's Halloween party, and it was perfect. It was filling without weighing me down, and it was nice and warming without being too out of season.

I didn't love it, but there's plenty of room for modifications so you can adjust it to your liking. I'm glad I finally got to try this, especially since it's gotten rave reviews on the cooking message boards I visit! It's a good one.

"Penne a la Betsey"
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1/2 pound pasta (penne, campanelle, rigatoni)
2 T. butter
Olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. white wine
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. heavy cream
1 T. basil
1 T. parsley
1 T. oregano
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Any pasta with ridges or sauce holding capabilities works well. Drain (don't rinse!) and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, work on your sauce.

Dice an onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Heat butter and a few drizzles of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally until soft. Add wine to skillet and cook until reduced by half.

Add tomato sauce and stir well until completely combined. Add cream and mix well until completely combined. Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer. Dice your herbs (if using fresh) and mince well. Add parsley, basil, and oregano to sauce and stir to evenly distribute herbs. Add cooked pasta to sauce, give it a good stir, and enjoy.

  • I used some campanelle I had laying around. I have used it before, and it's a great pasta for holding sauce. Campanelle roughly translates into "little bell" and the little skirt is actually better for holding meatier sauces, but it works fine in this instance, too.
  • PW uses grilled, chopped shrimp in her sauce. I didn't find any decent shrimp at the store, frozen or otherwise, that weren't covered in some sort of batter and fried. I didn't feel like hunting, so I left them out. This would be delicious with some grilled shrimp, or even with the addition of some ground beef. The sauce can definitely stand up to a meat product.
  • Fresh herbs really help make this dish, but if you don't have them, use dried. Fresh oregano is pretty powerful stuff, so use a teaspoon or two if you can find fresh, but a tablespoon of dried is fine.

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