The Perfect Comfort Food: Creamy Penne and Pancetta

Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that combines the richness of cream, the freshness of greens, and the savory delight of pancetta? In this mouthwatering recipe, we’ll guide you through creating Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta, a dish that’s sure to impress your family and friends. This recipe from Food 52 offers a delightful fusion of flavors, textures, and colors, making it an ideal choice for a cozy family dinner or a special gathering with loved ones.

Ingredients for creamy penne and pancetta: 

  • 1 pound of penne rigate
  • 1/3 cup of crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 pound of pancetta, diced into 1/4-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 pound of fresh broccoli rabe, thoroughly rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 medium bunch of dinosaur kale, rinsed and stems trimmed
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 1/2 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons of grated pecorino Romano, with extra for finishing touches
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt, plus more to taste

Directions for creamy penne and pancetta: 

  1. Begin by spreading the diced pancetta in a sauté pan and placing it over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until the fat is rendered and it turns crispy. Depending on your stove, you might need to lower the heat as you go to ensure even cooking. Once done, remove the pancetta from the pan and place it on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Set it aside for later.
  2. While the pancetta is sizzling, let’s prepare our greens. Rinse the broccoli rabe and kale thoroughly, ensuring they are free of any dirt. Trim the stems as needed. In a large pot, pile the still-wet greens and drizzle olive oil over them. Season with a pinch of salt. Set the heat to high and start wilting the greens. Use tongs to move them from the bottom to the top of the pot for even cooking. Once the greens are fully wilted, and most of the liquid has evaporated (you can pour off any excess if necessary), add the heavy cream and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Let it cook for about a minute.
  3. Transfer the wilted greens into a food processor, adding about half of the creamy liquid left in the pot. Begin pureeing, adding more liquid as needed to achieve a creamy consistency. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice and add the crème fraîche. Puree once more until everything is beautifully combined. Don’t forget to taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  4. In a separate large pot, bring water to a boil, and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Once the water is boiling, add the penne and cook it until it reaches the perfect al dente texture. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  5. After draining, return the cooked penne to the pot. Now, it’s time to combine all the elements of our dish. Spoon the creamy green mixture over the pasta, add the crispy pancetta, and gently fold everything together. Sprinkle grated pecorino Romano over the top and fold again for that irresistibly cheesy finish. If you prefer a creamier consistency, you can add some of the reserved creamed greens liquid or pasta water. To serve this delectable dish, bring out your favorite shallow bowls. Spoon the Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta into each bowl, and don’t be shy with the extra grated pecorino Romano for that final touch of flavor.

With its rich, creamy texture, the earthy notes of greens, and the indulgent crunch of pancetta, Penne with Creamed Greens and Pancetta is a culinary masterpiece that’s bound to become a favorite in your home. This dish perfectly balances comfort and sophistication, making it suitable for any occasion. Try it out and watch your guests savor every bite!

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Six Pasta Recipes You Must Know

The tried and true champion of dinnertime is, predictably, the last-minute pasta dish, and if you can equip your mental cookbook arsenal with these traditional Italian pasta recipes from Martha Stewart, you’ll be the celebrated champion of the delicious, authentic, and classic pasta dish that wins over the entire dining room.

Now, you may be particularly familiar with how to cook up a plate of bolognese from scratch or you’re the type of shopper to pick up some seasoning, noodles, and a couple jars of sauce for a last-minute concoction. Either way, the following classic recipes should be known by every chef as they introduce variety and breadth to your cooking catalogue.

Pasta Carbonara

Let’s start small with “Old Reliable,” or Carbonara, a quick dinnertime staple that is made from 6 everyday ingredients.  Honestly, if you know how to boil water, you’re not too far away from the easily-accessible pasta recipe for carbonara, as you need only crisp some pancetta in a skillet and whisk together eggs and creme on the side while the pasta cooks in your expertly-boiled water. Once al dente, simply combine it all together, and add bacon or other pork product, such as guanciale for a truly italiana plate.

Cacio e Pepe

Keeping in line with the theme of easy preparation, a simple plate of pasta doesn’t necessarily have to be a Bolognese sauce or lasagna, because it honestly doesn’t get much simpler or back-to-basic than Cacio e Pepe. This pasta recipe hits your tongue in a delightful way, as it’s made with Grana Padano cheese, black pepper, olive oil, and just a touch of lemon. It’s the fantastically simple, completely irresistible, and quintessentially Roman dish that you’ve been craving to prepare, cook, and enjoy.


Hailing from the region of Puglia (or Apulia), Italy is this revolutionary cooking method of placing dried pasta in a skillet along with the other ingredients to gradually cook and infuse with its accompanying flavors. This ensures that your noodles get the most flavor and you don’t have to dirty half the dishes in your kitchen just to get an italian meal on the table. Top it all off with fresh basil and grated parmesan for an easy and clean-cooking supper.

Classic Lasagna

It’s truly a must-know recipe that has a variety of takes from different regions across Italy, Europe, and the world at large. This particular recipe showcases a hearty meat sauce made with ground beef and pork sausage, and that sauce is sandwiched between layers of noodles and a rich cheese filling. Additionally, if you’re looking for a little added variety, feel free to substitute the normal protein-laden faire with fresh greens and vegetables for a dish that is less filling and more fulfilling .

Penne alla Norma

Speaking of vegetables, try out this hearty vegetarian penne recipe that takes advantage of the natural flavors and textures of eggplant, tomato, and ricotta. This dish comes from the heart of Sicily, and it’s rumored to have been inspired by Sicilian composer, Vincenzo Bellini’s opera, “Norma.” This aesthetically-appealing dish pairs well with fresh basil sprinkled atop your dollop of ricotta cheese for a creamy consistency found with every stir.

Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto

Jazz up your tired old spaghetti with pesto sauce, and this isn’t the usual Genoese pesto you may be all-too familiar with. This dish features a Sicilian take on pesto that uses toasted red pepper, fresh tomatoes, anchovies, capers, and golden raisins for a combination that is simply enlightened by its stacking of sweet, acidic, and savory flavors. The pignoli found in basil pesto are instead replaced with toasted almonds, though the Parmigiano is a constant across variants, making for a wonderfully flavorful dish.

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