Risotto-Style Penne with Tomatoes and Zucchini Blossoms
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.
When he was trying to lose weight, Mark Strausman relied on this garlicky, rustic whole wheat pasta. Not only is it loaded with fiber and lycopene-rich canned tomatoes, but it’s also deeply satisfying.
The tomato sauce here—with big pieces of flaked swordfish and slivers of jalapeño—gets nicely absorbed by the penne. And, judge Michael Schlow adds, “There’s a good proportion of tomatoes and fish to pasta, and it all comes together so well.”
Adding a small amount of canned chipotle chiles in adobo (available at most supermarkets) makes a basic tomato sauce smoky and complex. Finishing the dish with queso blanco and chopped cilantro leaves intensifies the Latin flavor.
This hearty pasta dish is studded with chunks of Italian sausage and mixed with a quick garlic-infused tomato sauce. It's then topped with dollops of fresh ricotta and a sprinkling of both mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano, which form a cheesy layer as the pasta bakes.