Today was Victor’s first day back at work.  I took pity and decided to continue his Pasta Monday for him.

All I can say, is it’s not easy following a recipe!

It’s funny.  I knew that I didn’t really follow recipes, but I really didn’t realize that I really don’t follow recipes!  Every fiber of my being was rebelling at measuring and using exactly what was on the printed page – nothing more and nothing less.  It’s not easy.

But the end result was wonderful!

For all intents and purposes, this is Italian Macaroni and Cheese.  And what a macaroni and cheese it is!  It has a thick, crunchy-crusty cheese topping that is out of this world.  And it’s only cheese!  The pasta, pancetta , and peas worked perfectly together.  The two egg yolks added creamy richness.

It was great.

It made a goodly amount, so Victor will have at least one lunch and we may have a side dish for dinner tomorrow!

Penne al Forno


  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces pancetta, roughly chopped (1/2 cup packed)
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 pound penne
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Heat oven to 450º. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

In a small saucepan, combine shallot and pancetta; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add peas and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat butter and flour over medium heat, stirring, until butter is melted and mixture is combined.Add milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, whisking frequently, until béchamel comes to a boil, then cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cream. Add béchamel and whisk to combine. Return to heat and bring just to a boil, then remove from heat.

When pasta is al dente, drain pasta and return to pot. Add pea mixture, béchamel and 1/2 cup cheese; stir to combine. Mix well, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake until top is browned, about 15 minutes.

And pasta deserves fresh-baked bread!

I followed the egg white version of the no-knead bread but used

  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat  flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran

for the 6 1/2 cups flour.

It worked really well.  I’m lovin’ this no-knead bread!

And I’m lovin’ this Monday Pasta.