The thought of a baked pasta dish makes me salivate. I love baked spaghetti at our favorite local Italian restaurant, but I have not found a baked pasta recipe that makes me giddy with the thought of serving it.
Then I was lucky enough to be watching the Today show and they were doing a segment on a penne pie. Matt Lauer informed the lady cooking that he was a big fan of spagetti pie. The lady assured him, this penne pie would be just as delicious.
They went through their segment showing how to make penne pie. The final moment when Matt takes a taste . . . drum roll, please . . . he closes his eyes, a look of contentment settles on his face as he savors this bite. “A winner, maybe even better than spaghetti pie!” he exclaimed. “I think you could even use Italian sausage for more flavor.”
My husband said, “That sounds good, we should try it sometime.” Within a week, I had assembled all the ingredients to make penne pie with Italian sausage.
As I am making this, I am hoping this is THE recipe that will be my baked pasta recipe. How can it miss? It is loaded with cheeses: ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella. Perhaps I have even added a bit more cheesy goodness than the recipe called for.
It smelled great. It came out of the oven, rested a bit so it wouldn’t fall apart. The big moment . . . the first taste . . . waiting for that savoring of this pasta. Where’s the sigh of this-is-the-best-bite-ever? (especially, since we had Italian sausage, not just plain old hamburger) Take another bite, maybe that was the one bite that didn’t meld all the flavors . . . Nope, that’s not the problem. There just isn’t a lot of flavor in this pasta.
Another night, we have the pasta as leftovers. This time red pepper flakes have been sprinkled over the pasta. It’s a little better, still not the sigh-inducing-best-pasta-ever flavor. I’m ready to chuck this recipe in the trash. My husband says, “It wasn’t bad, maybe with a few tweaks, it could be good.” I put the recipe back in the cabinet. Maybe one day I’ll play with it and see what else I can add to up the flavor. But in the meantime, I don’t know that I will believe Matt Lauer when he sighs and deems a recipe is wonderful. I will watch with a skeptical eye in the future.