I know. I know.
I cook penne like all. the. time.
There is however a method to my madness.
You see penne (in my opinion) has to be the easiest pasta shape for the little ones to grab hold of and nibble on.
Miss G. has adored penne since our early baby led weaning days and I’m savvy enough to know when to stick to a good thing.
So with that said today I am bringing you yet another penne incarnation, and this one is a beauty.
Gorgeously aldente wholemeal penne surrounded in a simple sauce of fresh heirloom tomatoes and olive oil spiked with a little zesty lemon and basil is pure baby led weaning perfection.
The key to creating this sauce is to squeeze the chopped heirloom tomatoes and allow all of the juice to seep out and rest in the bottom of the bowl ready to be combined with good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and a large handful of basil. And when added to the hot penne this sauce is instantly absorbed creating the most vibrant zesty tasty penne ever.
And for a little extra somethin’ somethin’ is the gorgeous layer of crispy, golden, garlic spiked bacon crumbs that adorns the top of the penne.
For the little ones I recommend adding the crispy crumbs and stirring them through the juicy pasta so that they soften just a little and make eating a wee bit easier.
For the big kids though, leave the crumbs just on top of the pasta so not to lose any of there gorgeous crunch. I promise you’ll love it.
Miss G. happily gobbled her tomato studded penne for lunch not leaving a morsel of the crispy crumbs behind.
Another penne hit.
To create your own juicy heirloom tomato penne w’ crispy crunchy golden bacon crumbs simply…
Begin by preparing your bread crumbs. Take a loaf of sourdough, chop in half and use your fingers to pick out all of the lovely soft crumbs. Pop the crumbs onto a baking tray.
Finely chop two rashers of bacon and add to the tray of breadcrumbs along with a teaspoon of minced garlic and a good glug of olive oil. Toss to combine.
Pop the tray of bacon crumbs into a preheated 200 degree (390 F) oven for 10-15 minutes. NOTE: the baking time will vary a little depending on your oven so keep a close eye of your crumbs and don’t forget to give them a good toss half way through cooking. When lovely, golden, toasted and crispy remove the crumbs from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, whilst the crumbs are browning in the oven bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the penne and cook according to packet instructions or until aldente. Drain and set aside.
With the crumbs browning in the oven and penne happily bubbling away turn your attention to the tomatoes. Take a large punnet of heirloom tomatoes and pop them onto a chopping board. Chop some of the tomatoes in half, quarter others and leave some whole. The point is to have a good mixture of different shapes. Pop the tomatoes into a large bowl and use your hands to squish them. Add a teeny pinch of salt and set aside for a few minutes so that the tomato juice pools at the bottom of the bowl.
To the squished tomatoes add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and fresh basil leaves. Toss to combine and leave to sit for five minutes or so, just so the flavours can infuse and mingle.
Add the cooked and drained penne and toss to combine. The hot penne will drink up all of the lovely tomato/lemony olive oil and smell divine. Add a little shaved parmesan if you desire.
I served ours family sharing style by placing a generous bowl of pasta on the dining room table alongside a big bowl of the crispy golden bacon crumbs. Each of us piled our plates high with spoonfuls of pasta and adorned our supper with a lovely sprinkle of the golden crumbs.
heirloom tomato penne w’ crispy bacon crumbs
1 loaf of sourdough bread, cut in half and crumbs removed
2 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil
400 grams wholemeal penne
1 large punnet (400 grams) of heirloom tomatoes, halve some, quarter others and leave a few whole
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan, shaved
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius (390 F). On a large oven tray line with baking paper place the crumbs, bacon, garlic and olive oil and toss to combine. Pop into the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside. NOTE: the cooking time will vary a little depending on your oven so just be sure to keep an eye on the browning crumbs so that they don’t burn.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook according to packet instructions or until aldente. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl place the tomatoes and squish them carefully using your hands. Add a teeny pinch of salt and allow to stand for a few minutes so that the tomato juice pools at the bottom of the bowl. Add the lemon zest, basil leaves, olive oil and parmesan and mix to combine. Add the cooked penne and mix to combine.
To serve place generous portions of the pasta on each plate and top with the gorgeously golden and crispy bacon crumbs. Enjoy x
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