Ina's Penne with Five Cheeses

I have to be honest here-this was not one of my favorite recipes, and I'm not sure I will make it again anytime soon. This surprised me, because even though I don't particularly enjoy watching The Barefoot Contessa, I have to admit I like a lot of Ina's recipes. This one just seemed to fall short, though. I wouldn't recommend it if you're on either a budget or a diet (as a matter of fact, I'm on both-I just happened to have 3 out of the 5 cheeses necessary in our house at the time, which is what prompted me to give this recipe a try). Here are my personal pros and cons for this pasta dish.

Pros-This is a very easy dinner to throw together. It requires hardly any prep time, very little cook time, and you really won't dirty up your kitchen too much. Also, the ingredients are very easy to find in your local supermarket. And as a final pro, if you're making this dish for a man (or men) chances are they will be pleased. Maybe it's just me, but I have yet to find a man who will turn down a meal that is swimming in cheese.

Cons-This is a very expensive recipe to make. I've been trying to slash our grocery budget, and as I mentioned before, the only reason I made this new dish is because I already had most of the ingredients in the house. Also, I personally found it to be too rich. Even though this recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of gorgonzola, I thought it was overwhelming. Not to mention the two cups of heavy cream....yeah. I'm pretty sure I blew an entire day's worth of calories on this dinner.

All that being said, to each their own. Will liked this recipe a lot more than I did, and I would be willing to make it again if he requests it. I'll just to have to add a two-hour workout session to my day! ;)
Source: Food Network

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup shredded imported Italian fontina (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound imported penne rigate pasta
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot. Combine all the ingredients except the penne and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

2. Drop the penne into the boiling water and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.

3. Divide the pasta mixture among 6 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2 to 2-cup capacity). I used one large dish, and this worked just fine.
4. Dot with the butter.
5. Bake until bubbly and brown on top, 7 to 10 minutes.


  1. Were there any other "Cons" flavor wise? I probably wouldn't make it soon based on the cost, but from the photos it looked really good!!

  2. Well, it was a little rich for my taste, but other than the gorgonzola I didn't have any cons, flavor-wise. I just think I would use a different cheese to replace the gorgonzola (maybe asiago or a sharp provolone).

  3. Hmm this looks good to me! My favorite dish at Olive Garden is the 4 cheese pasta, but I definetly save it for special occasions because it is not friendly to my waistline!


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