Penne alla Cobb

I drove south on Lake Shore Drive this morning, and for a glance I almost felt like it was PCH, and the Pacific was breaking waves to my left. And it was because of SUN. Not even that much–just a pinch, by California standards. But after so long of being boxed in by snow and clouds, I felt like I could see clearly for the first time in months.

Man, I miss California. I miss the excess of sun that soaks into your skin and simmers your heart just a bit. The generosity of sun. California feels maternal to me. Giving.

But back in Chicago, back in reality, things are inching toward spring, and that is amazing enough for right now. I’ve been cooking a bit less lately. I’m moving this month and don’t have much to spend on groceries. Plus, my wonderful friends keep feeding me. This week, I did cook a pasta that was big on flavor. There are a few tweaks I’d make to the recipe, and the one I’m posting below reflects those. I caramelized the onions in the bacon fat, which made things a bit greasy–so I’m recommending caramelizing in olive oil. Nonetheless, the flavor was golden. Sunny.

I’m dubbing it Penne alla Cobb for now, because it’s reminiscent of a cobb salad, which is a classic California combination, invented at the famous Brown Derby. Pasta is such a wonderful base carb–my favorite. You can pile on the good stuff and it will always welcome it with open arms.

penne sweet potatoes

Penne alla Cobb

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks of about 1/2″
olive oil
salt and pepper
5 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced into thin strips
1/2 pound of penne pasta
blue or gorgonzola cheese
parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place a pot of salted water on the stove over high heat until it boils.

Arrange the sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper, and make sure that they are easily coated. Roast until tender, about 10 or 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the bacon to a cold pan, then cook over medium until crispy.

In another pan, warm a few tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium and slowly cook the onions until they caramelize. Watch them so that they don’t burn or brown. You want them to be rich and golden.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, bacon, onions, and sweet potatoes. Liberally grate or crumble the cheese on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Mix well until combined, adding a bit of the cooking water to melt the cheese and coat the pasta. Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley (not shown because I didn’t have any).


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About Kate Soto

2 responses to “Penne alla Cobb”

  1. Mary Soto says :

    What a wonderful combination of flavors. Love, Mom

  2. Angela says :

    My boyfriend and I made this last night and used a soft goat cheese instead of blue cheese- it was scrumptious.

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