Penne with Pancetta and Roasted Red Peppers, Absorption Cooked with Tomatoes and Basil

May 7, 2010

There’s got to be an easier name for this method of cooking pasta.  Slow-cooked? Actually, it’s not all that slow to cook. Considering that you don’t have to wait for the water to boil, this dish took about the same amount of time.

I read about the absorption method of cooking pasta a while back and had a great big “DOH!” moment, wondering why the heck I’d never thought of it.  Sure, I’ve boiled orzo or pastine in broth before but I hadn’t considered cooking the pasta right into a big pan of something good.  The result is a creaminess and depth of flavor similar to risotto but, because it requires only occasional stirring instead of the continuous wrist-breaking work of risotto, it’s a whole lot easier.

I’m totally hooked!  I’ve already made another variation and I’m pondering yet another for tonight.  Get creative and tell me what you’d include!

  • Pasta, something sturdy like Penne, 1 pound
  • Pancetta, about 1/2 a pound
  • Ripe Tomatoes, 6 to 8 small to medium
  • Garlic, 6 to 8 cloves
  • Red Bell Peppers, 2 or 3
  • White Wine, about a cup
  • Chicken Stock or Bouillon, 6  cups or so
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Fresh Cheese for the table

    Dice the pancetta. I roasted these peppers by halving them and putting them under the broiler until they began to blacken.  Next time I’ll just slice them into strips and cook them in the pot along with everything else.Mince the garlic and quarter the tomatoes.Bring the broth to a low simmer and keep it hot.Add just a little olive oil to a large saute pan.  Fry the pancetta until it begins to get crispy. Remove it with a slotted spatula, drain on paper towels and set it aside for now.Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan, with a little more olive oil if it seems dry.  Sprinkle in a dash of crushed red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for a minute or two, until the garlic and tomatoes begin to soften.Stir in the wine.Add the pasta and stir well.Add a little broth and stir, cooking over medium heat.  As the broth is absorbed, add a little more and stir again.  Continue until the pasta is nearly done.Meanwhile, peel the blackened skin from the peppers and chop them up.Tear in a handful of basil leaves.Add the peppers and pancetta.Stir it all together and cook for just another couple of minutes.Serve it with lots of fresh Parmesan or Asiago.Enjoy!

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 julia May 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I see why this is your favorite pasta dish, ever! Is it possible to have refreshing comfort food? If it is, you nailed it. Question: can I add half and half and ricotta at the end for a creamy sauce?


    2 Karen Bove May 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Cream and ricotta would make it perfect! I’m already planning on cream for tonight’s version with prosciutto.


    3 Magdalena May 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hello! It is a great idea to cook penne the method that you presented in this post. My husband, who is addicted to pasta, will defintely love this recipe and I am going to show it to him only tomorrow morning (it is late now here). Besides, I like a lot your photo “repportage”…I always appreciate a lot those bloggers who have courage to publish so many pictures in one post – it is a lot of work. Very good recipe, I added it to my favorites, so I will not forget. Have a good day, Magdalena.


    4 Jessica May 15, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I’ve cooked lasagna noodles before like this, but never penne pasta. I am slapping my head right now…! The photography is beautiful and the recipe looks very tasty!


    5 Charlie June 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    A bit of black olives and some mushrooms might liven it up a bit more, perhaps a few capers. Although it is yummy as is!


    6 Judy June 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Just now found your site….. can’t wait to browse all the recipes. Pictures are wonderful. Thank you!


    7 Susan B. April 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

    The very first dish I learned to cook, many many years ago when I first got married, was something called “Skillet Spaghetti”. You made a meat sauce in an electric skillet and then added dry spaghetti and cooked until the spaghetti was done. It never got mushy and it had the best flavor. I’d forgotten about that till now. That was 40 years ago. Funny how things come back around.


    8 Shari N David Duff September 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Had the pleasure of eating this particular dish made by Karen herself and I have to say it was wonderful….but then all her stuff is! Thanks Karen and love eating your cooking, then being able to come home and look it up on your blog and make some myself…..Gonna try that Southwest Chicken Soup this week (minus the jalapenos for you know who) <3


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