Sunday, July 05, 2009

Penne with Five Cheeses

Note that this is the original title of the recipe, but you can pretty much adapt it to suit your taste or according to what you have on hand. This particular time, I made a Cavatappi with Four Cheeses, and it was really good.

You can make it gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta (in any case, stick with short pasta).

You can also make it lactose-free if you choose your cheeses wisely and if you use lactase drops in the cream. In my personal experience, heavy cream (like 35%) is too thick to mix with the lactase drops, so you should stick with lighter cream (like 15%) if you want to make it lactose-free. If you want to omit the cream altogether, you can; just add a little more tomato sauce. For the cheese, I want to point out that I’ve now found lactose-free goat cheese, called Elite, made by Damafro (it is also low in fat). It’s opened up a world of possibilities for me! I just love goat cheese. With it, I used parmesan, sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese. There is also lactose-free Gouda on the market. Just know that processed cheese is usually not “real” cheese and most definitely contains lactose. The quantities below are those I have written down in my recipe binder, but I rarely follow them, they’re just guidelines.

½ lb pasta
½ cup of cream
½ cup canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano
¼ cup shredded cheddar or fontina
2 oz shredded mozzarella
2 oz shredded Gorgonzola or Gouda (if you don’t like blue)
3 oz goat cheese or ricotta
fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional, but it tastes better)

Preheat oven to 500 °F and bring two quarts of water to a boil.

Combine the cream, tomatoes, cheeses and basil leaves in a bowl.

Salt the boiling water and drop in the pasta. Boil until al dente, about 4 minutes, then drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the bowl, tossing to combine.

Divide the mixture in shallow ceramic gratin dishes or oven-safe bowls (mine are somewhat big, so they contain about two servings each, provided you have a salad on the side). Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until brown and bubbly on top. Serve.

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