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Pasta Strascinata...Sautéed penne with mushrooms

Little medieval towns like Orvieto dot the landscape of Umbria.  This region is known as the “green heart” because of its central location on the Italian peninsula.  The cooking is simple and straightforward.  Adding stock gradually to this pasta while cooking it, in the manner of risotto, heightens the flavor.

½ c parsley, chopped
5 oz. Parmesan cheese
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
3 oz. mushrooms trimmed and sliced
3- 6 T olive oil
1 lb. Penne pasta
1/3 c cognac
5 c beef stock
¾ c fat free half and half
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil over moderate heat.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown.  Remove.  Sauté the onion in olive oil until soft but not brown.  Return the pasta to the skillet, stir in the cognac, and cook until the liquid is evaporated. 

Add 2 cups beef stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed.  Add 2 more cups stock and, when it is almost absorbed, stir in the mushrooms.  Add the remaining stock ½ cup at a time and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed each time and the pasta is al dente.

Stir in the half and half and salt and simmer until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley and pepper.

Serves 8…from my favorite…Pleasures of Cooking