Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two Cheese Penne with Crushed Aleppo Pepper

When I've had a busy day, I make one of my quick and easy recipes. This pasta recipe is one of my grown up versions of mac and cheese. I use cheeses that melt well like Colby Jack, Gruyere, or sharp cheddar. I even made this with goat cheese once. This recipe has crushed Aleppo pepper, a complex, moderately hot crimson red pepper from Syriah. Aleppo is available at Christina's Spice & Specialty Foods in Cambridge. Aleppo is one of my favorite peppers and gives any dish a little added "zip." Use your favorite type of pasta. I use Penne for this recipe because it is one of my husband's favorite type of Italian pasta.

crushed aleppo pepper

1 pound penne(or your favorite pasta)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup of finely minced shallots
Freshly cracked black pepper (I like crushed Tellicherry peppercorns)
1/4 lb of Colby jack cheese
1/4 lb of Monterrey cheese
2/3 cup of sour cream (I never said this was going to be a low cal meal!)
1/2 teaspoon of crushed allepo pepper. You can substitute a couple of generous pinches of crushed red pepper. You can add more if you like it hot.
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook your penne according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare your sauce: Using medium heat, saute your garlic for 2 minutes in a large fry pan. Add the shallots and Aleppo peppers and "sweat" onions and garlic for an additional 3 minutes. Keep a close eye on your garlic and shallots because you don't want them to burn. You want your shallots translucent and garlic slightly caramelized. Garlic and shallots sauteing in oil is one of the best aromas in the world! Add sour cream and stir for one minute. Add your Monterrey and Colby Jack cheese right in the pan. Allow cheese to melt into the sour cream. Stir occasionally. Using a bamboo skimmer/spider or a similar contraption, take out pasta 2 minutes before it reaches its aldente state and then add your pasta directly to the sauce. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce while absorbing its flavor. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce. Add a little pasta water to the pan and cook for a few more minutes until it penne is aldente. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and serve with your favorite side salad.

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