Penne ham and mushrooms

Uncooked Penne

New recipe of the year, with one of the “most-commonly-found-abroad-after-spaghetti” type of pasta, penne rigate.

Small digression: the word “rigate” refers to the ribbed surface of them; such lines are called “righe” in Italian, so its adjective become “rigate”. 


p>Very fresh, very quick, and tasty as usual.

Ingredients for 2 people:

1/2 onion (red or white according to the wine)
1/2 glass of wine (red or white according to the onion)
100 gr of mushrooms  (any cheap will do)
50 gr of cooked ham (if possible sliced)
100 ml of tomato purée (or sauce or passata) (or roughly 2 glasses)
extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper
chilli pepper  (optional)
250 gr of penne rigate
grated grana padano (or other hard cheese)

Preparation (it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes): 

Let one of the fire go to max while you are preparing. I would suggest you chop all the ingredients first, then you are kind of free to do the rest while saving time.

Chop your onion nicely in small pieces, and put it in a large pan together with a generous amount (3 tablespoons should be fine) of oil, grinded black pepper, a bit of grinded chilli or powder if you like, and a pinch of salt.
Chop the mushrooms in thin slices and put them apart.
Slice the ham (if not already) and cut it in small pieces, as with the onion.

Put the pan on the fire, and let the onions fry till gold. Do not forget to stir it often, if the fire is high enough and the onions very small, they will easily burn.
Put the ham in and lower a bit the fire (from 5 to 4, for instance).

Let the ham cook for 2/3 minutes before putting the wine in. This will “cool down” things a bit, giving you time to start boiling the water for the pasta. To quicken up, you may also pre-boil the water in a kettle.
By the time you do that, the alcohol should be evaporated. It’s time to put the mushrooms in, together with the tomato purée and a generous pinch of salt.

Add half a glass of water, stir nicely and cover the pan with its lid. Of course you have the lid for that pan, right? If not, just add some more water as it dries up.

Now focus on the pasta; as soon as the water boils, put a generous amount of salt in (1 tablespoon should be fine) and then the penne. Check the cooking time of your chosen brand and stir it from time to time when it boils to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Drain it 1 minute before the suggested time for “al dente”, usually penne rigate may vary between 9 and 11 minutes but YMMV, and keep some of the boiled-salty-starchy water in a mug, a glass may break accidentally because of the heat.

Pour the pasta in the pan with the sauce, put a third of the water from the mug in and stir it at low fire, so you can let the pasta simmer  a bit and absorb all the flavours from the sauce. This is the right time to grate some cheese in, the quantity will be according to your taste, but don’t be greedy!

Penne rigate can absorb a fair amount of water and sauce; as the sauce get dry, add some more boiled water in, but just to smoothen it up, we don’t need a soup! Add the last bit of water before getting the pan off the fire and let the pasta “rest” for a little while, to get the creamy texture just right!
To be served with some grated cheese on top.

Buon appetito!

Thanks J.D. for the shot