It’s officially chilly in Dallas. In the mornings anyway, by afternoon we hit summertime temps, but I’m focusing on the little bout of cold I brave during my AM runs. And since it’s actually cold during one small day-part, it’s time to bake up some pastas.
This pasta comes straight from my dear friend Martha Stewart. We’re pretty much besties if you count how much time we spend together via TV and Internet. She never fails when it comes to creamy, bubbly, straight out of the oven pasta indulgences. Her mac and cheese recipe is one of my favorites and an absolute crowd pleaser.
In retrospect, I should have halved this recipe. I was only feeding two people, not ten. This recipe makes a lot of pasta. But, if you’re a trooper like me, you’ll persevere through adversity and finish off the pasta over a week.
Penne with Basil, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chicken (adapted from Miss Martha)
Martha swears this serves four people, but I’m thinking more like six.
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (you could also just use store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add basil and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.