A perennial favorite, and great kid food that also satisfies a more sophisticated adult palate, I find that this is one of those dishes- like penne all’arrabiata- that is deceptively hard to get just right. The key (apart from cooking the pasta properly) is the integration of the various strong flavors into a near-seamless whole within a sauce that has to be just reduced and oily enough to coat the pasta. When it’s done right, it sings four-part harmony and transcends its humble status; it becomes the perfect plate of pasta, the Platonic Penne.

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  1. Zoomie
    November 7

    One trick I learned from watching Lidia Bastianich on TV is not to rinse the pasta but to leave that starchy layer on as it helps the sauce to cling.

  2. peter barrett
    November 8

    I never rinse the pasta- it goes right from the pot to the sauce to finish. Something home cooks never get to use is a splash from the big restaurant pasta pot that’s full of super-starchy water from all the orders already cooked; it’s a fantastic thickener for sauce.

  3. Zoomie
    November 8

    I’m getting the impression that you are more than the average home chef! 🙂 Did you/Do you work in restaurants? You can tell me to MYOB if you want (Mind Your Own Business)

  4. peter barrett
    November 8

    I was a private chef about 10 years ago, but I’m self-taught. I did live in France and Italy for a while, though, and did a lot of eating.

  5. Zoomie
    November 9

    Know what you mean about France and Italy – just eating there is a constant lesson in eating well!

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