Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pick Yourself Up Creamy Penne Pasta

I’ve somehow developed a habit of automatically reaching for tomatoes when making pasta dishes. I’m not sure when this habit began but it has now made my pasta dishes predictable and boring…and that’s no fun.

This week seemed like a good time to make a change and start my pasta dishes in a different direction. Instead of a tomato-based sauce I embarked on preparing a creamy cheese sauce for my penne pasta.

Since I was already making changes to my cooking routine, I also altered my food preparation experience. For the last two months I’ve been filling my kitchen with the sounds of old classic rock and R&B tunes. This time I was looking for something completely different so I dug through my music collection and ended up with the jazzy styles of Diana Krall.

I have to tell ya the whole experience was a real "pick me up". Making the cheese sauce (which is surprisingly low-fat) was easier than putting together my typical tomato sauce even though I had to keep an eye on it (it'll burn if you forget about it). As for the music, the jazzy vibes of Diana Krall’s album When I look in your eyes added a cool relaxing element to the experience. The song “Pick Yourself Up” was the standout for me on this impressive CD.

If this dish looks like it’ll put a new spin on your pasta dishes then give-er-a-go! And if you’re just discovering the genre of jazz, Diana Krall’s music is a welcoming place to start.

Pick Yourself Up Creamy Penne Pasta

8 oz penne pasta
1 can (14 oz / 385 ml) evaporated 2% milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp dry mustard powder
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped bacon (3 ounces) (3 slices)
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp each dried oregano and dried basil

In a large saucepan, cook penne according to package directions. Drain pasta. Rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

In a medium pot, whisk together milk, flour and mustard powder until smooth. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Reduce heat to low. Add Parmesan cheese, vinegar and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

In a large deep skillet, cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Transfer cooked bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove half the bacon drippings from the skillet and add green pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and basil. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Return cooked bacon to skillet. Add sauce and cooked pasta. Cook and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Volume: Make 4 Servings

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Brent Garell
The Kitchen Roadie

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