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Penne Pasta
with Lemon Infused Vegetables and Ricotta Salata

Penne Pasta with Lemon Infused Vegetables and Ricotta SalataThis vegetarian entrée features large pieces of Shiitake mushrooms that help give the dish a hearty, meaty flavor.

Recipe Ingredients:

1 pound broccoli florets
1 large fennel, cut into strips
1 gallon water
2 tablespoon salt
1 (16-ounce) package penne pasta
4 to 6 ounces virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 pound Shiitake mushrooms, quartered
1 cup red peppers, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, coarsely chopped
1 pound ricotta salata cheese

Cooking Directions:

  1. Par-cook the broccoli and fennel by boiling for 3 to 4 minutes in salted water; drain and reserve.
  2. To cook the pasta, bring the salt and water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until the pasta is almost tender, approximately 8 to 10 minutes Drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic, lemon zest and the red pepper flakes in the olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, being very careful not to brown the garlic.
  4. Add the red peppers and Shiitakes and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender.
  5. Add the cooked broccoli, fennel and fresh thyme and continue to cook without browning.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, half of the parsley and season with salt and ground black pepper. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid.
  7. Portion the pasta into heated bowls and garnish with grated ricotta salata and the chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: Ricotta salata is a dry salted ricotta cheese that has a sharp, almost tangy flavor. It is available in most Italian grocery stores.

Recipe and photograph courtesy of the National Pasta Association.