Cheesey Carb-y Goodness

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Sorry for the tardy post on the topic of comfort food, but I was just invited to contribute and couldn’t pass up writing a few words about my favorite foods….

Like most Americans, “comfort food” means three things to me: carbs, cheese and more carbs. Some of my all time favorites have been with me since I was a little kid. From my mom’s potato salad she makes for every family gathering (no matter the season) and her scalloped potatoes with extra cheese on top (that she still makes every time I go home for a visit), to my grandmother’s mashed potatoes and turkey gravy. Other favorite comfort foods I discovered a little later, like gnocchi, baked macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, read beans and rice, carbonara, and gratiné.

Lately, my favorite comfort food, one I make almost weekly, is a version of Penne alla Sorrentina, or as it came to be known in my house: “ghetto pasta.” It earned it’s nickname because when I first made it I would use ultra-cheap “italian style” stewed tomatoes. Since then I’ve become accustomed to using the not-so-cheap-but-much-more-delicious San Marzano tomatoes. There’s really no comparison… Like all good comfort food, this recipe is full of cheese and carbs. I first had Penne alla Sorrentina at my family’s favorite Italian restaurant in my hometown. It’s really just the quintessential tomato sauce topped with chunks of fresh mozzarella. The simplicity of this dish allows you to appreciate each of flavors on it’s own.

Ingredients:

3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil
28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes (I prefer the crushed)
1tsp salt
10 basil leaves, torn
8oz fresh mozzarella, cubed (or use the small bocconcini style)
4 servings of penne (or whatever pasta you like)

In a large pan, over medium-high heat sauté the garlic and the red pepper for 30 seconds in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and salt. Give it just the lightest stir. Let it come to a boil and turn it down to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you like your sauce. Don’t stir it for the first 10 minutes, this allows some good carmelization to happen. In the last couple of minutes stir in the basil then drop the mozzarella pieces on top of the sauce. Give them just a minute or so to get slightly soft and then serve the sauce on the penne. I also like to garnish it with a bit more basil.

boxofbirds

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6 Responses to “Cheesey Carb-y Goodness”

  1. Jaq Says:

    Where do you find the San Marzano tomatoes? Maybe DeLaurenti’s carries them.

  2. iheartbacon Says:

    I’m sure DeLaruenti’s probably has them. Some QFC’s, Metropolitan market, etc, have them. You can even get them from Amazon :).

    And, it’s actually not bad at all with good domestic canned tomatoes… 🙂

  3. Jaq Says:

    I’ve been using the Muir Glen ones occasionally, especially the fire-roasted. Next year, I might try canning or freezing some myself, instead of processing them all into tomato paste.

  4. iheartbacon Says:

    Yes I’ve heard those are good, too. I should try them sometime.

    Now that we have a good sunny place I plan on growing some tomatoes this year. This recipe is also great with good fleshy tomatoes in the summer.

  5. Claire Says:

    Have you ever tried Beechers Mac’n’Cheese. ULTIMATE Comfort food!

  6. iheartbacon Says:

    No, I haven’t, but I’ve heard about it and need to make my way to the market and get some soon!

    That reminds me of one of my other favorite comfort foods: grilled cheese sandwich… er, I mean panini… 😉 so good with beechers!

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