A Comprehensive Guide to Crafting Perfect Penne Pasta: From Basic to Gourmet

Penne pasta, with its distinctive tubular shape and ridged surface, has captured the hearts of pasta enthusiasts worldwide. Its versatility extends from simple yet satisfying preparations to elaborate culinary creations. This comprehensive guide delves into the art of making penne pasta, providing step-by-step instructions, expert tips, and delectable recipe variations to elevate your pasta-cooking skills.

How to Cook Plain Penne Pasta

Mastering the basics of penne pasta cooking is essential for creating a foundation of culinary excellence. Follow these simple steps to achieve perfectly al dente penne:

  1. Bring Water to a Rolling Boil: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. The vigorous boiling water helps prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  2. Add Salt (Optional): While some argue that adding salt to the water enhances flavor, it is not a mandatory step. If desired, add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water.
  3. Add Penne: Carefully pour the penne pasta into the boiling water. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the pasta, ensuring that it is submerged and separated.
  4. Cook According to Package Instructions: The optimal cooking time for penne pasta varies depending on the brand and type. Refer to the package instructions for the recommended cooking time, which typically ranges from 8 to 11 minutes for al dente texture.
  5. Test for Doneness: Al dente pasta should have a slight bite to it. To test for doneness, remove a piece of pasta from the pot with a fork and gently bite into it. If the pasta offers a slight resistance while still being tender, it is al dente and ready to be drained.
  6. Drain Pasta: Use a colander to drain the pasta thoroughly. Avoid rinsing the pasta with cold water, as this can remove the surface starch that helps sauces adhere to the pasta.

Tips for Perfect Penne Pasta

  • Use a Large Pot: Opt for a pot that is large enough to accommodate the pasta without overcrowding. This allows the pasta to cook evenly and prevents sticking.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pot: Overcrowding the pot can hinder even cooking and result in mushy pasta. Ensure that there is ample space for the pasta to move freely in the boiling water.
  • Stir Occasionally: Give the pasta an occasional stir to prevent it from sticking together and ensure even cooking.
  • Taste Test: The best way to determine the perfect doneness of your pasta is to taste it. Remove a piece of pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time and taste it to assess its texture.
  • Reserve Pasta Water: Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. This water can be added to sauces to enhance their flavor and create a silky consistency.

Penne Pasta Recipe Variations

The versatility of penne pasta shines through in the countless recipe variations it can accommodate. From classic preparations to innovative culinary creations, here are a few delectable options to tantalize your taste buds:

  • Classic Penne with Tomato Sauce: This timeless dish combines the simplicity of penne pasta with the rich flavors of a homemade tomato sauce. Simply sauté onions, garlic, and herbs in olive oil, add crushed tomatoes, and simmer until the sauce thickens. Toss the cooked penne in the flavorful sauce and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Penne with Vodka Sauce: Elevate your pasta experience with a creamy and indulgent vodka sauce. Sauté shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes in butter, then add vodka and let it simmer until reduced. Stir in heavy cream, grated Parmesan cheese, and cooked penne. Finish with fresh basil for an aromatic touch.
  • Penne with Pesto: Capture the vibrant flavors of basil with a refreshing pesto sauce. Combine fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and grated Parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth. Toss the cooked penne in the pesto sauce and add a drizzle of olive oil for extra richness.
  • Penne with Alfredo Sauce: Indulge in the creamy decadence of Alfredo sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan, whisk in flour, and gradually add milk while whisking constantly. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese and cooked penne. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley for an elegant touch.
  • Penne with Roasted Vegetables: Showcase the vibrant colors and flavors of roasted vegetables in this hearty pasta dish. Roast a medley of vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss the cooked penne in the roasted vegetables and add a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a touch of sweetness.

Crafting perfect penne pasta is an art that can be mastered with practice and attention to detail. By following the simple steps and incorporating the expert tips outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can elevate your pasta-cooking skills and create delectable dishes that will impress your family and friends. Experiment with various recipe variations to discover the endless possibilities that penne pasta has to offer. From classic preparations to innovative culinary creations, the versatility of penne pasta is a culinary canvas upon which you can paint your own masterpiece.

How to Make Penne Pasta

  • Make the dough: from our 2-Ingredient Homemade Pasta.
  • Form the dough: Split the dough into quarters for this recipe for Penne Pasta, then work with one portion at a time. To prevent the remaining dough from drying out, cover it. Working with one section at a time, pass through a pasta maker to #5. Do this twice. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible if you don’t have a pasta maker. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Cover the remaining square with a dish towel.
  • Arrange a dough square in the shape of a diamond on the gnocchi board. To create ridges, place the dowel on the dough square, shape the dough around the dowel, and then roll and press the dough against the gnocchi board. The tube will have a point at both ends. Press the ends of the dough together to form a seam while it is still surrounding the dowel. Remove the penne from the dowel and set it on a baking tray dusted with semolina.
  • Dry the Dough: Let the pasta air dry completely for 12 to 24 hours to make sure it maintains its shape while cooking.
  • Prepare the Pasta: Just before serving, cook the pasta in a big pot of salted water for a few minutes to add flavor and keep it from sticking.

Key Ingredients and Why

  • All-purpose flour All-purpose flour has around 11. 5% of the protein content is the ideal amount to give the pasta the elasticity it needs to maintain its shape while cooking. The pasta’s texture is perfectly firm and slightly chewy due to the amount of gluten in it.

How To Cook Penne Pasta At Home The Best Way | Recipes By Chef Ricardo


How do you add flavor to plain pasta?

Add butter after it’s cooked and drained, then add seasoning, then stir it up. I use parsley, garlic salt, onion powder, garlic powder and a small amount of accent. Sometimes I also use celery salt. Salty water and butter are your friends.

How do you doctor up plain pasta?

Simplest might be some butter or extra virgin olive with salt and pepper. To step it up a bit, fry a bit of minced garlic in your fat, first. Going up the scale a little, if you consider grated cheese simple enough, with butter, parmesan, and some of the hot water you cooked the pasta in, you can make pasta Alfredo.

How do you cook penne pasta?

While the dough is around the dowel, press the ends together to make a seam. Slip the penne off the dowel, and place on a semolina-dusted baking tray. Dry the Dough: To ensure the pasta keeps its shape while cooking, allow the pasta to completely air-dry for 12-24 hours.

How do you cook penne pasta in a crock pot?

Slip the penne off the dowel, and place on a semolina-dusted baking tray. Dry the Dough: To ensure the pasta keeps its shape while cooking, allow the pasta to completely air-dry for 12-24 hours. Cook the Pasta: When ready to serve, cook your pasta in salt water (for flavor and to prevent it from sticking) in a large pot for 6 to 10 minutes.

How do you eat penne pasta?

When ready to eat, simply cook up some penne pasta, spoon the sauce over the penne, and top with plenty of grated parmesan and fresh oregano. Toss it up, eat, and enjoy! Simple and easy as that. Want to make this vegetarian? I often make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage from the recipe.

What is penne pasta made of?

This penne with quick-from-scratch marinara is made with canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and fresh garlic steeped in olive oil to make an all season pasta that’s warm and comforting in the fall and winter but light and bright for spring and summer eats.

Leave a Comment