Saturday, December 11, 2010

Penne in Creamy Sauce

Wholegrain Penne, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and carrots.
Sounds heathy? Loads of vegetable goodness =)

The load of vegetable goodness is neutralized by the addition of a creamy sauce and bacon bits. I don't serve this dish regularly, so I guess it is ok for the bacon to make its guest appearance on the dinning table once in a long while =)

2 cups Wholegrain Penne
1 head Broccoli
3 stalks Carrots
12 Grape Tomatoes
1 packet Bacon

  • Cook penne according to the package instructions.
  • Drain and set aside.
  • Cut the broccoli into small florets.
  • Microwave or blanch in hot water.
  • Set aside.
  • Remove skin from carrots.
  • Cut into strips or cubes, whatever you prefer.
  • Set aside if you like it raw.
  • Microwave if you like them soft.
  • Wash and pat dry the grape tomatoes.
  • Thinly sliced them.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix penne, broccoli, carrots, and grape tomatoes together.
  • Set aside till ready to eat.
  • Bake the bacon in the oven, according to package instructions, till crispy.
  • Remove baked bacon and leave them on a paper towel to cool.
  • Once cooled, break the crispy bacon into smaller pieces and set aside.

Sauce Ingredients

2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
2-4 tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
1.5 cups Milk

Preparing the Sauce:

  • Put the butter in a saucepan.
  • Place the saucepan over low heat and warm till the butter is melted.
  • Add the flour to the melter butter.
  • Using the whisk or a spoon, stir the flour and butter until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, but not browned.
  • Raise the heat and stirring constantly, slowly pour the milk into the saucepan.
  • Stir continuously, and cook until the sauce mixture is smooth and thickened.
  • It should be about as thick as melted ice cream.
  • Remove saucepan from the heat.
  • Add salt and stir well.
  • Add Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Pour the sauce over the mixing bowl of prepared penne and vegetables.
  • Mix well.
  • Add the bacon bits and mix well.
  • Pour the bowl of penne, vegetables and bacon into a large serving bowl.

I was too lazy to wash another big mixing bowl, so I poured the sauce directly into the serving bowl which had the penne and vegetables, before mixing in the bacon bits. The sides of the serving bowl had the sauce and it didn't look very nice.

You can also add some shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce, if you like a very cheesy and thick sauce. The sauce can be prepared 15 minutes prior to serving the meal. The ingredients can be prepared ahead of the meal. While preparing the sauce, I popped some vegetable spring rolls into the oven to bake =)

This dish also makes a good pot-luck dish. It can be served warm or cold. It tasted just as good the next day as leftover, warmed up in the microwave. I didn't add much salt to the sauce, as I felt that the bacon bits did their job well in providing the saltiness, and that extra crunch. Personally, I feel that the bacon bits are the "soul" of this dish. Without them, the dish is kind of bland.

If you really dislike the idea of having bacon in your diet, then feel free to replace the bacon with some other cooked meat =) The next time I cook this, I may replace the bacon with some raisins and toasted nuts ... no meat!

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