In many Italian families, a dish that you will find cooked on a weekly basis is pasta. There is nothing quite like fresh penne or gemelli pasta tossed with a homemade meat sauce. To this day, I honestly cannot think of a pasta sauce that can rival my grandmother’s. When I first met Allie back in Chico, one of the first meals I made for her was a chicken Parmesan with a side of penne pasta. This week’s meal is especially important to me, because it is a reminder of my family roots. Whenever pasta was being cooked, my brothers and I were able to count on the fresh aromas of a sauce my mother had been preparing all day. Incorporate homemade meatballs, and buon appetito! Whenever blogging has become difficult or overwhelming, the reminder of memories such as these is what makes it all worth it. Also, being able to create new memories with Allie is especially rewarding.
Penne pasta has and will forever be a favorite of mine, so trying to introduce a twist or two with this dish was an invited challenge. As Allie has mentioned before, we love thinking of new ways to cook things. We also enjoy adding ingredients that are unexpected for a particular dish. This penne pasta bake did both things. Not only did it defy the way we normally make and prepare penne, but it also let us step out of our comfort zone and incorporate ingredients that we usually do not combine in our meals. Using goat cheese, broccolini, and butternut squash pasta sauce was beyond delicious. Adding crispy pancetta to this delightful mixture made it even more mouth watering. Additionally, baking it to ensure that all of the rich flavors came together in the oven, made for an even greater treat.
Although my mother’s classic dishes are usual staples in our home, we have been enjoying experimenting with flavors and pushing the limits when it comes to some combinations. My mother’s wonderful Italian cooking is the base of most of our dishes, and our fun twists add layers to classic and delicious staples. When we dreamed up Love and Risotto, we knew that we wanted to put amazing spins on the dishes we love. It is so rewarding to be able to do just this every night with Allie and make our favorite meals even more scrumptious. Enjoy this penne pasta bake with friends or with family. It is such a fun and unexpected bake that will leave you crossing your fingers for leftovers. Enjoy!