Fabio Trabocchi, an F&W Best New Chef, likes this unusual method of cooking pasta in the style of risotto to create a rich, silky sauce. "It works beautifully with small shapes like penne," he says. A really good imported slow-dried pasta will be quite porous, which allows it to soak up liquid bit by bit, just as rice does in risotto; it also means the pasta will maintain its shape as it becomes al dente.
Slideshow: More Penne Recipes
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 pound slow-dried penne rigate
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunk
3/4 cup torn basil leaves, plus more for garnish
4 zucchini blossoms, stems and pistils removed, blossoms halved, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese, for serving
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the stock and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Keep warm over very low heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the penne and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 11/2 cups of the warm stock mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Stir in the marinara sauce; bring to a simmer. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until nearly absorbed before adding more. The pasta is done when it's al dente and the sauce is thick, about 25 minutes total.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes to the pasta and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the 3/4 cup of basil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls and garnish with the zucchini blossoms (if using) and basil. Serve right away with cheese.
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