Monday, March 18, 2013

Recipe: Penne with Ricotta and Crispy Pine Nut Topping

My 12-year-old has hit one of those coming-of-age moments: she has decided to be a vegetarian... for one month. I think most girls go through it at some point, I know I did. Unfortunately for her 2 sisters, I am not a short order cook and what one person eats for dinner... we all eat. Congratulations Annika and Acadia, you are also vegetarians this month!

While I am fairly well versed at vegetarian cooking, trying to find dinner recipes to please a 4 and 7-year-old is not quite as easy.  I have found a few meals that all 3 girls (and myself) do like. And when Acadia woke this morning and asked if she could have last nights penne for breakfast, I knew it was a recipe I just had to share.

Here you go:

1 1/2 cups penne
1 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tbs shallot finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup ricotta
3/4 grated parmesan, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tbs pine nuts
2 tbs panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried basil

Cook the penne until al dente. Drizzle with 1 tsp oil and keep warm. Preheat your broiler and oil some ramekins and place on cookie sheet. Heat 1 1/2 tsp of the oil in large saucepan. Add shallot and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Stir in flour until paste forms. Gradually whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stirring until sauce thickens (if it gets too thick, add a bit more milk.) Slowly stir in ricotta and 1/2 cup of parmesan. Remove from heat and add in fresh basil. Stir penne into sauce. Spoon mixture into your ramekins.

Combine remaining parmesan, 1 1/2 tsp oil, pine nuts, dried basil and panko. Sprinkle about 1 tbs over each ramekin. Broil 2-3 minutes or until topping is browned.

It's that easy. It was quite yummy and pleased all three girls... which is hard to do! All I can say, though, is make sure your bread crumbs are panko and do not skip the pine nuts. That crispy topping really made the whole dish.

*I adapted this recipe from Vegetarian Times magazine, which I highly recommend for some great recipes. I also love that I can get it on my Nook (or Nook app) for even more convenient reading.

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