I don't know why I was craving this but I was. I was craving this for literally weeks. I guess it's a comfort food thing. Things have been a little intense lately and when things get intense we want familiar and comforting foods. In a lot of families the comfort foods are things like meatloaf (I have no idea why), mac and cheese, that sort of thing. I guess baked penne is kind of like mac and cheese, in a completely different way. A way that involves sauce, because everyone knows that the only purpose for pasta is to convey sauce from plate to palate. Of course, I couldn't have it just with ricotta and mozzarella. I really wanted some different kinds of cheeses. These cheeses do take the dish away from Things I Ate When I Was A Kid, which I guess means that it no longer qualifies as comfort food, but I don't really care. I wanted them, and I got them.
And now it's time for a ramble about Snooty Cheeses. I'll admit it. I like them. Yes, I like "normal" cheese too. I'm not a cheese connoisseur, I don't order cheese platters and sit around and critique them with my nose in the air and a little notebook. I do however know what I like, and I've found that very often what I like does not come from cows. I like goat's milk and sheep's milk cheeses. I like the unique flavor that they impart to a dish and I especially like their scent. This probably means that there is something deeply wrong with me and that's okay, but I find something more satisfying about a dish if the cheese is goat or sheep cheese than if it's cow's milk cheese. I don't know if that means that I eat less of the dish, because I feel more satisfied with what I've eaten, but I know that it makes me happier and I suppose that's the important thing.
Anyway, you can use whatever sauce you like for this dish. This one here is more or less the one that I used, but the one with olives here is just fine too. I added the greens because I had them on hand and because I wanted to make the dish a little healthier.
Baked Penne with Three Snooty Cheeses (serves about 20; approx. $2.11)
2 boxes whole wheat penne
6 cups tomato sauce (approx.)
1 bunch turnip greens, washed (not dried) and chopped
1 bunch collard greens, washed (not dried) and chopped
1 wheel bucheron, crumbled
8 ounces fresh pecorino, thinly sliced
2 ounces aged pecorino, grated
8 ounces goat gouda, thinly sliced
- Large pasta pot
- Frying pan
- 2 roasting pans
- Preheat your oven to 425︒.
- Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain.
- Heat the frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the greens and cook until wilted. The water from washing the greens should suffice to keep them from burning. Remove from heat.
- Line the bottom of the pans with pasta.
- Layer a bit of sauce over the pasta.
- Add some the slices of pecorino, then sprinkle a little of the grated pecorino.
- Add about a quarter of the greens to each pan.
- Repeat steps 5 - 8, replacing the fresh pecorino with bucheron.
- Repeat steps 5 - 8 again, only layer the gouda slices on top of the casserole instead. Sprinkle with the grated pecorino.
- Bake until the gouda is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.