Monday, October 8, 2012

Whole Grain Penne in Almond Cream Sauce

We just got back from the "happiest place on Earth".... Walt Disney World. My children are blessed to have grandparents who have taken us there a few times. However, the happiest place on Earth has not always been so happy for us.

Trip 1: All three of our kids came down with a stomach bug which lasted on and off for half our trip (including the plane ride home.)
Trip 2: My daughter and I came down with severe conjunctivitis (pink eye.)
Trip 3: I had such severe stomach pain I ended up taking an ambulance ride to the ER where two MRIs revealed nothing (except for the fact that my appendix had not ruptured.)
Trip 4: Our youngest came down with a 24-hour stomach bug (a long 24-hours.)

Now, you'd think lightning wouldn't strike 4 times. Our friends tell us we are crazy for going back there and we must be allergic to the place. Despite all our disasters there, the positive times we have had there FAR outweigh the negatives. And let's face it: We LOVE Walt Disney World! Between the warm air, palm trees, fun rides, time with family, and amazing food... we love all of it.

As wonderful (and at time stressful) vacation can be, it is always nice to be back home in your own house, in your own bed. And as nice as it was letting someone else do the cooking for a week, I'm glad to be back in my own kitchen again too.

Whole Grain Penne in Almond Cream Sauce
(Adapted from Glada De Laurentiis)
((Printable Recipe))

1 pound whole grain penne pasta
2 cups raw almonds
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 can (13.5 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed (or dry beans cooked)
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pint heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a blender, add the almonds, garlic, olive oil, and vegetable stock. Blend until the mixture is smooth. (It will still have small chunks of almonds in it.) Add this mixture to a large skillet and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring often. (This mixture is thick and tends to splatter if you don't stir it often enough.) Add the peas, cream, and beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

3. Place the drained pasta in a large serving bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Add the sauce and the remaining cheese and fresh basil. Toss together and add the pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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