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Penne with Basil Cream Sauce

I love pasta recipes, but I rarely take the time to make the sauce from scratch.  I am the master of dressing up store bought sauces by adding onions or veggies, but I know this doesn’t count.  This was my first attempt at a white sauce and it was adapted (yet another recipe…I know!) from the 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes cookbook.

The original recipe didn’t call for mushrooms but mushrooms make everything better, don’t they?  Since I didn’t know if it would mess up the sauce, I sauteed it first and then removed it before starting the sauce.  Here’s what I did:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta.  Follow the directions on the packaging to cook the penne.
  2. Sautee the diced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Once it’s done, remove the mushrooms and place in a bowl until step 6.
  3. Add the olive oil to the frying pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic.  Sautee the garlic quickly (I did for about 20 seconds) and then add the flour.  Combine the flour and garlic (it will start clumping at this point).
  4. Add the half-and-half and the salt.  Stir the combo until it’s all smooth.  Stir consistently and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove the frying pan from the heat.
  5. Add the grated parmesan cheese to the frying pan and stir.  Make sure the cheese melts into the sauce.
  6. Add the chopped basil and the diced mushrooms to the sauce.
  7. Put the cooked penne in a serving bowl and add the sauce over the pasta.  Toss until combined and add pepper to taste.
  8. I sprinkled some parmesan cheese over the final product.

It was light and perfect for lunch with a side salad.  I wondered if sun-dried tomatoes would be another good addition to the pasta.  I’ll have to try it out next time!  And yes, I said next time because this recipe is delicious and a keeper!


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