OKLAHOMA CITY - Even though the kids are getting ready to head back to school, you can still hold on to summer in the kitchen.
This penne pasta dish with a delicious tomato basil cream sauce will be sure to please everyone at the dinner table:
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T butter
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 - 1 t salt
3.5-4 C puréed tomato (may use 1 28oz - 32oz can crushed)
1/3 cup fresh Basil, chopped (plus a hint more for topping)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C grated Parmesan
1 lb Penne pasta (I prefer whole wheat)
Grilled chicken breasts as desired - factor 1/2 breast per person if sliced, or serve one whole, small breast per person)
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic. Sauté until softened and translucent. Add crushed red pepper, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
Add crushed tomato, salt, pepper and stir. Bring mixture to a slow simmer. (If you have a kitchen wand, purée the mixture as it simmers. Also, if desired, you may add 1/2 C vodka to make a Tomato Vodka Cream sauce - just be certain that the mixture simmers for 6 minutes to burn off the alcohol).
While mixture is simmering, cook pasta. As pasta is finishing, add heavy cream and basil to sauce, stirring until slightly thickened. Drain pasta. Toss pasta and sauce together. Top with additional basil, Parmesan and chicken, if desired. Serves 4-6.