Saturday, September 18, 2010

Penne All'Arrabiata

Finding something to cook that will both, be liked by adult and child can be challenging.  I don't know many chefs who have children, but the ones I've read about have similar issues.   They dont want to always eat Mac n' Cheese and Hamburger helper.  They want, I WANT, something a bit sophisticated in flavor, but something the kids will enjoy.  I had luck with pasta dishes.  Kids love pasta in general.  You see pasta in some of there favorites and they never tend to scream bloody murder if you serve it and call it dinner. 

Since my children are just plain picky.  I blame my genes for that.  (I'm food picky mixed with OCD)  For three or so years my wife Amy and I thought our first born was going to be a vegetarian.  We just couldn't get the little bugger to eat anything meat.  Not that this is bad, but we wanted to at least have him eat a little with each meal.  One day in a pinch, for something to prepare for lunch, I grabbed some Ramen noodles from the pantry.  Quick, easy, and comforting for a cold snowy afternoon for both me and my hungry little boy.  I made them in there typical fashion and served them up.  HE LOVED THEM!!!!!  maybe its was the slurping the noodles or maybe it was just a fluke, but it was a key tell, that my child would love things Pasta.  Next step was Spaghetti with a red meat sauce.  (I used my Mothers old recipe that I have loved for many years)  He loved it too.  From those days on anything Pasta has been a hit at the table for both adult and squirrely children.  Almost every variation we have made they have eaten with smiles. 

With that, I set out to make something sophisticated and authentically Italian.  I referenced many times my favorite Italian cook book "Il Cucchiaio d'argento" AKA "The Silver Spoon" to come up with ideas and recipes.  The results have been good.  I think for every 10 Pasta dishes I have prepared there may have been 2 they didn't like.  In my opinion, that's  a huge success rate over Mac N Cheese or hamburger helper. 

I highly recommend getting this Cookbook as a essential part of your reference material for cooking.  It's served me well.

So, let me get to the following recipe.  The main reason I picked this one is because its complicated in flavor but easy to prepare and serve.  At a glace it looks like it may be Blah, but I assure you its far from Blah.

Penne All'Arrabiata

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small red chile pods, - or red pepper flakes
28 oz. can plum tomatoes
1 pound Penne Rigate pasta
2 oz. (3/4 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
pinch sugar
salt to taste

Step To Step
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat.
Add the onions, garlic, and chili peppers and cook until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, smash tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes over medium heat. (this is a typical way of making red sauce Italian style)

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in salted water, about 11 minutes. (I always salt my water when cooking Pasta, this adds flavor to the pasta, and also brings out the flavor of the Pasta so it wont be lost in the red sauce)

Stir half of the parmigiano cheese into the sauce. Season sauce with salt and sugar to taste
Drain the pasta well, mix thoroughly with the sauce, and sprinkle the remaining parmigiano cheese. 

Serve right away.

I'll leave you with this, as I said in my post Crispy Pizza and I'll restate it again, "more is not better" when your making good Italian food.  I have found most Italian recipes, that are truly great,  have very few ingredients.  So,  grab a good wine and some good bread and enjoy this wonderful pasta dish,  I know my children did, and I know you will too.


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