Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roasted Garlic Lemon Penne with Toasted Almond Breadcrumbs

I walked out of work today, and was immediately hit with cold rain...brrr!  I cranked up the heat in my car as I drove home.  It is 45 degrees today, in Minnesota, and rather dreary, which made me decide to make something warming and comforting for dinner, like a casserole.  I like to heat up the oven and the stove when it is cold in the house, and eat something warming! I had a head of garlic on my counter and some lemons, so I thought I would incorporate them into a pasta dish!  Mac and cheese sounded good, but not wanting to mess with a roux and melting cheeses I thought I would use neufchatel to make the dish creamy.  I roasted the garlic in the oven, which mellows it and gives it a wonderful flavor, and pureed it in the blender with the lemon, as well as the neufchatel and some pecorino romano for some saltiness.  I felt that the dish was needing some veg, so I threw in some spinach for color.  I could have left it as was, just simply creamy, but I wanted a contrast to the creamy, so I added an almond breadcrumb topping.  As the dish immerged from the oven, a wonderful aroma filled the air, and not even waiting for it to cool a minute I had to dive in!  The dish was warming, comforting and delicious!  Just what I needed on a cold rainy day like today!  Give it a try the next time the cold rain hits, or when you feel like some delicious pasta!

Roasted Garlic Lemon Penne with Toasted Almond Breadcrumbs

1 head garlic, unpeeled

sea salt
6 oz dried penne pasta
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

8 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
3/4 cup shredded pecorino romano
juice and zest of 2 lemons
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup sliced almonds broken up slightly
1/4 cup shredded pecorino romano
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wrap garlic in foil, and rost until very soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool until managable, then squeeze the cloves out of the papery part and set aside. Lower oven temp to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to salted water and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Place pasta in a large bowl with spinach. Place garlic in food processor, along with neufchatel, lemon juice and zest, 3/4 cup pecorino romano and salt and pepper to taste and enough extra pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta and spinach and toss to coat. Pour into a medium sized ovenproof casserole dish. In another bowl, mix together the panko, almonds,1/4 cup pecorino romano and olive oil. Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the pasta. Place in the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes, or until hot and breadcrumbs are lightly brown.


Kristi@Ja Cie Kocham said...

It was cold in the Northeast, too! Where did the warm weather go?!

The breadcrumb mixture sounds amazing. I can almost smell the almonds baking in the oven now!

Elin Chia said...

this is great for a cold night. Real comfort food. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)