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Penne with 5 Cheeses

January 16, 2019

Penne Pasta 


In this easy dish, five Italian cheeses are tossed with heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, basil, and penne noodles and baked to create a very rich, very lush and comforting update on macaroni and cheese. We like it because it looks and tastes grown-up enough for the dining room, but it’s mild enough in its flavors that our kids are super excited to eat it.

Our tip: If the kids are in the kitchen eating pizza, you could give the dish a little more blue cheese funk by increasing the gorgonzola and going lighter on the mozzarella. You can also turn up the texture and spice by frying up a couple Italian sausages and stirring them into the pasta before you divide it into the gratin dishes. And, in all cases, serve this with a bright green salad dressed in a zippy vinaigrette — you’ll want it to balance out all that cheese!


Servings: 6


Kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup crushed tomatoes in thick tomato purée
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 ½ ounces)
½ cup shredded imported Italian fontina (1 ½ ounces)
¼ cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1 ½ ounces)
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
¼ lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
16 oz penne rigate pasta
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
½ stick unsalted butter



  1. Preheat the oven to 500º.
  2. Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
  3. Combine all the ingredients except the penne and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  4. Drop the penne into the boiling water and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the pasta mixture among 6 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (1 ½- to 2-cup capacity), dot with the butter, and bake until bubbly and brown on top, 7 to 10 minutes.
  6. Let rest for 10 minutes, and serve warm.


Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa .

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