Palate-pleasing pairings easy with penne

November 04, 1998|By CeCe Sullivan | CeCe Sullivan,SEATTLE TIMES

What comes to mind when you hear "It's a match made in heaven"? Streisand and Brolin? Bogart and Bacall?

Probably, you think of a good romance, a monogamous relationship.

But what we're thinking of doesn't involve a soul mate. In fact, in this case monogamy isn't a virtue.

What comes to our mind is penne. That's right, pasta. Those little hollow tubes that cradle savory tomato sauce or bits of caper and smoked salmon. Take a bite and it explodes in your mouth with an irresistible interplay of texture and flavor.

You can pair this pasta with all sorts of tastes and match it to many different preparations. Add a cup to a lusty soup fragrant with herbs, tomatoes and clams. Or couple it with blue cheese, basil and humble broccoli for a ravishingly rich dish.

Italian Clam and Pasta Soup

Makes 5 servings

2 (6 1/2 -ounce) cans chopped clams

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can crushed

tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup penne pasta

1 zucchini, diced finely

optional: 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

about 1 tablespoon grated

Parmesan or Romano cheese

per serving

Drain the juice from the clams into a 4-cup measuring cup. Stir in the chicken broth and enough water to equal 3 3/4 cups liquid. Set both clams and liquid aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 5 minutes.

Add garlic, carrot, celery, bell pepper and a couple of tablespoons of the broth mixture. Cook 5 minutes.

Add remaining broth, crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, cayenne, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in the pasta, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 12 minutes. Then add clams, zucchini and parsley, if using. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes.

Garnish each serving with a little of the cheese.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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