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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This Penne Pasta Recipe shows you how to easily make one of the most versatile pasta from Northern Italy, Liguria. This semolina pasta is not only robust enough to hold its own in a stick-to-your-ribs baked pasta casserole but also perfectly bite-sized and proportioned to use in pasta salad. You can make penne ridged for a visually appealing presentation, or simply enjoy smooth penne which is delicious in its own right!
This Penne Pasta Recipe is made from my master Semolina Pasta Recipe. I can’t wait to share each variation with you, such as Orecchiette Pasta Recipe, Malloreddus Pasta Recipe (Gnocchetti Sardi), Cavatelli Pasta Recipe, Busiate Pasta Recipe, Olive Leaf Pasta Recipe (Foglie d’Ulivo), and Rigatoni Pasta Recipe.
Table of Contents
- What is Penne Pasta?
- Tools You Need for Penne Pasta
- Key Ingredients and Why
- How to Make Penne Pasta
- Can I Make Penne Pasta in Advance?
- How to Dry Fresh Pasta Correctly at Home
- How to Store Penne Pasta
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Italian Favorite Recipes
What is Penne Pasta?
- Penne, an eggless tubular-shaped pasta, was invented in Liguria in Northern Italy in the 1800s.
- The name “penne” means pen or quill in Italian, because it’s cut diagonally on the ends and resembles an old-fashioned writing quill that was dipped in ink.
- The dough is either extruded—pressed through a bronze dough—or shaped by hand as we do here.
- Thick sauces and Parmesan cheese cling beautifully to ridged penne, while smooth penne is typically used in soups or brothy sauces.
Tools You Need for Penne Pasta
- Food processor or bowl
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
- Pasta maker (optional)
- Gnocchi board
- Wooden dowel (1/2-inch)
- Baking tray
Key Ingredients and Why
- Semolina flour
- Semolina flour is made from hard durum wheat, the species of wheat used to make pasta.
- This high gluten, high protein (13%) content gives semolina flour more durability and elasticity. That helps the pasta keep its shape while cooking and gives your pasta that wonderful al dente texture.
- It has a coarse, grainy texture, and is pale yellow in color from the carotenoids, the natural pigment found in durum wheat as well as in carrots and sweet potatoes.
How to Make Penne Pasta
- Make the dough: from our 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe.
- Shape the dough:
- For this Penne Pasta Recipe, divide the dough into quarters and work with one section at a time. Cover the rest of the dough so it doesn’t dry out.
- Working with one section at a time, pass through a pasta maker to #5. Do this twice. If you don’t have a pasta maker, roll out the dough as thin as you can.
- Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Cover the remaining square with a dish towel.
- Place a square of dough on the gnocchi board in a diamond orientation.
- Place the dowel on the square of dough, form the dough around the dowel, and roll and press on the gnocchi board to make ridges. The tube will have a point at both ends.
- While the dough is around the dowel, press the ends together to make a seam.
- Slip the penne off the dowel, and place on a semolina-dusted baking tray.
- Dry the Dough: To ensure the pasta keeps its shape while cooking, allow the pasta to completely air-dry for 12-24 hours.
- Cook the Pasta: When ready to serve, cook your pasta in salt water (for flavor and to prevent it from sticking) in a large pot for 6 to 10 minutes.
Can I Make Penne Pasta in Advance?
After the penne is completely air-dried, store at room temperature in an airtight container for eight weeks.
How to Dry Fresh Pasta Correctly at Home
- Drying homemade pasta correctly and thoroughly before storing it away is a very important step: if not done correctly the stored pasta will go moldy.
- Because it will be held at room temperature and not in the fridge, removing all the moisture is critical to ensuring the safety and longevity of your pasta.
- Start by tossing the penne with a small amount of semolina to keep the dough from sticking.
- Next, lay the pasta in a single layer on a baking sheet. You will need to let your pasta completely air-dry.
- This can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours or longer, depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen.
- In hot countries, this step can be faster by putting the pasta in the sun, which is what I do.
How to Store Penne Pasta
- Store leftover cooked penne in the refrigerator for up to three days. Drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking.
- Or dry the dough in a single layer on the baking tray for several hours before transferring to an airtight container to be stored at room temperature for up to 8 weeks.
- Alternatively, freeze raw fresh semolina pasta for up to eight weeks.
Can I make this pasta without a pasta maker?
You can roll the pasta sheets by hand if you don’t have a pasta maker but be sure to roll the dough as thin as you possibly can.
Can I cook the pasta without drying it first?
The drying ensures that the penne will keep its shape while cooking, and it also might be sticky if you try to boil it without drying it first.
Can I use my food dehydrator to dry my penne?
Homemade penne pasta is generally air-dried, however, you should be able to do it in a single layer in an oven or dehydrator at 135°F for about four hours, checking it at two hours to test it. The timing depends on the thickness of the pasta.
How will I know if my penne is properly cooked?
Cook the pasta until plump and expanded, and the center no longer looks chalky or raw.
What are the most popular penne dishes?
- Penne all’Arrabbiata: This spicy dish features tomato, garlic cloves, pepper, and dried chili.
- Penne alla Vodka recipe: Tomato sauce enriched with heavy cream co-stars with penne in this famous preparation.
- Penne with Chicken and Broccoli: This family favorite features garlicky chicken and broccoli tossed with pasta.
- Penne alla Pizzaiola: With the colors of the Italian flag, green (basil), white (mozzarella chunks), and red (tomato sauce) Pizzaiola is both festive and simple
- Penne alla Boscaiola: Indulgent Boscaila, or Woodsman’s Pasta, boasts a sauce made from mushrooms, cream, tomato, and bacon.
- Penne allo Scarpariello: This simple Neopolitan recipe contains fresh tomato, garlic, chili pepper, olive oil, basil, and Pecorino Romano.
- Baked Penne Casserole: Nothing says love like a bubbling penne, marinara sauce, and mozzarella dish hot from the oven.
- Penne alla Valdostana: This fondue-like Northern Italian recipe has an indulgent ham and fontina cheese sauce.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- Make the dough from my 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe.
- This dough dries out quite easily so be sure to store the dough in an airtight container (or in plastic wrap) when you are not working with it.
- This pasta is shaped on an un-floured gnocchi board. If shaping becomes difficult, try a very small touch of flour.
- This pasta must dry completely before cooking for it to retain its shape.
- Even if thoroughly dried, this pasta must be stored in the refrigerator and cooked within two days.
- Store-bought fresh pasta often cooks in a few minutes but this heartier handmade version can take longer. Be sure to cook thoroughly!
- Pair this pasta with Roasted Garlic and Herb Compound Butter, Blue Cheese Compound Butter, or Sun-Dried Tomato Compound Butter, you’ll be grand!
More Italian Favorite Recipes
Homemade Penne Pasta Recipe
- 1 recipe 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe
- Divide your 2-Ingredient Semolina Pasta Recipe into quarters and work with one portion at a time, leaving the rest covered to keep it from drying out.
- Working with one piece at a time, pass through a pasta maker to #5. Pass the dough twice through this setting.
- Cut the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) squares and keep the squares covered with a tea towel while you work with one square at a time.
- Place the dough on a gnocchi board in a diamond orientation. Using a ¼ inch (6 mm) thick dowel, roll the dough around the dowel and press into the board so that they make lengthwise ridges. (The tube should have a point at either end from rolling it up from one corner to the opposite corner.)
- Press a bit more firmly at the seam to seal it, slip the tube off the dowel and place on a baking tray dusted with semolina to dry while you shape the remaining dough.
- Allow the dough to dry in a single layer on the baking tray for several hours to dry before cooking or transferring to an airtight container to be stored at room temperature for up to 8 weeks. (See my note above on ‘How to Dry Pasta Correctly at Home’)
- When ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender and fully cooked through, about 6-10 minutes. Cook time depends on thickness and shape so check for doneness before removing from the pot.