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Pomai’s Penne

“Waikiki Penne” and “Hawaii Kai Penne” are a few names I considered naming this dish, but I figured, ah heck with it, I’ll just be egocentric on this one and name it after myself. lol

As is the case with most types of refined types of cooking – even as simple as it may appear – preparing pasta dishes is all about steps and timing. Unlike roasts, soups and some stews, where you just throw everything in the pot on the stove or oven and forget about it until it’s done.

The former being the case, where I present to you today my “Revolution 2012“, health and fitness friendly Penne pasta dish, of my own creation. Notably it doesn’t have a sauce per se, but depends entirely on the earthy goodness that is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, along with a heavy dose of minced garlic, plus thyme and dill. Quite simple, yet oh so good!

Not only do you get them heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids from the EVOO, but you also get a full serving of whole grain from the 100% Whole Grain Penne Pasta,  plus more fiber, along with an entire list of essential vitamins and minerals from from the long beans. And yes, plenty of mushrooms, as that’s what I LOVE using as my meat substitute.

First let’s take a look at the 100% Whole Grain Pasta box…

I didn’t know the Golden Grain Mission® brand pasta is made in Italy. That’s good to know, as usually I buy the Barilla brand.

See, even the manufacturer’s recipe is simple, only using Olive Oil as its “sauce”.

Let’s take a look at this here 100% whole grain penne uncooked out of the box…

What I love about Penne is that its hollow tube shape acts as a “capsule” that holds the sauce (in this case EVOO) within, so every bite explodes with flavor.

And get this: because this recipe has Olives (which I LOVE), I thought instead of throwing away that precious, tasty, salty Olive-flavored liquid, why not use it in the pasta water? Genius!

Which is why you see the cooking water has a brownish hue. I learned a lot about Italian cooking just by watching Molto Mario (Batali) on the Food Network, where for “Pasta 101”, he said the water should “taste like the sea”. To achieve that, simply add salt (in this case I use Hawaiian Salt) to the water and keep tasting it until it, well, tastes like sea water.

This is only the third time I’ve cooked 100% Whole Grain pasta, where I found like brown rice, it takes a little longer to cook. Although the instructions say to cook it 9-11 minutes, it took about 14 minutes for it to reach the level of al dente that I wanted it, which is just underdone, as I’m going to continue cooking it in the saute pan with the other ingredients. So I kept taking bites of penne to check it after the 9 minute mark. Here at this point it’s done…

I tell you, that Olive liquid worked out like a CHAMP, as you could taste the flavor penetrated right into each and every Penne.

To keep my pasta from sticking together while it rests, I give a toss with some EVOO just enough to coat them…

EVOO “Liquid Gold” right there, baby, Liquid Gold. I actually should have done this in a mixing bowl, as I lost some olive oil through the pukas (holes) in the collander. One of them “Podagee” moments. lol

Let me tell ya’, these babies are like little tubes of Olive-infused pasta delight just like that. No need anything else! Add a glass of Cab’ with it, and you could just as well pop these pupu style and call it a night!

But now we get to add more fun stuff to this Penne party…

From top to bottom row, left to right, we have:

• Shiitake Mushrooms, 1 package, rehydrated and sliced into strips
• Italian Five Cheese Blend: Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Asiago and Parmesan, about 1 cup (but no scade, add way more than that!)
• Fresh Crack Black and Hawaiian Salt
• Sweet Peppers, about 1 cup, sliced into thin strips
• Fresh Basil, about 3/4 cup, Chiffonade
• Cherry Tomatoes, about 2 or 3 handfuls worth, left whole
• Long Beans, about 3 handfuls worth, cut into 3-4″ pieces
• White Mushrooms, 1 four oz. tray, sliced
• Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin), peeled, seeded and sliced into wedges for plating presentation
• Minced Garlic, mixed with Thyme and Dill, about 3/4 cup
• Large Black Olives, 1 fifteen ounce can, reserved liquid for pasta water, chop Olives
• 100% Whole Grain Penne Pasta (or pasta shape of your choice), 1 box, cooked just under Al dente, and coated with EVOO
• Chardonnay White Wine (or grape of your choice)
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil (get the best one your budget allows, as this component is KEY to this dish. The Kirkland EVOO is GREAT!).

Earlier I mentioned pasta cooking is all about steps. Looking at the ingredients, you immediately see each one needs its own cooking time. Notably the Kabocha, which I discovered the HARD way in a previous attempt, that it goes from al dente to mashed potato consistency VERY quickly when I added it in with the pasta while it was cooking. Never again.

So this time around I let it steam with some Chardonnay in the saute pan and watched it carefully…

I covered it to prevent the wine from evaporating, where it took about 10 minutes to get the Kabocha to al dente consistency. Perfect. I also added salt and pepper, which you should do along the way with each component in the dish.

When done, remove the Kabocha and set aside on a plate, then in goes the Long Beans…

“Cooking 101” will also teach you about deglazing, which is when you add a liquid to the hot pan to remove the “fond”, which are those tasty brown bits stuck to the pan. Here you see when I add the wine, it immediately deglazes the brown “good stuff” stuck to the pan….

The Long Beans cook pretty quick, where they were done in about 5 minutes for al dente consistency. Remove and set aside.

What time is it now? SHROOM TIME!…

Notice there’s a drizzle of EVOO, along with a couple generous pats of butter. Oh yeah, mo’ buttah, mo bettah! No hold ’em, choke ’em!

You see how much fond is in the pan at this point, which is a good thing, as the ‘shrooms are like sponges, absorbing whatever liquid you throw at it. After they’re sauteed to doneness, add more wine and deglaze again.

Once the mushrooms are almost done, add the Sweet Peppers and Garlic/Thyme/Dill aromatics and saute some more…

Note, keep that bottle of EVOO by your side, as you’re going to need to keep adding some, little by little to the pan as you cook, to keep everything “flowing” and not burning.

Here you see how I’ve almost completely deglazed the pan, where all those flavors are now locked into them shrooms…

It’s time for the Penne to join the party peeps…

Toss gently, being careful not to break the pasta, while on low heat.

We’re almost done. Add the cooked Long Beans, Olives and raw Cherry Tomatoes and saute for a few minutes more to heat through….

Again, toss gently, let all the ingredients heat through, then finish by adding the basil and cheese…

Adjust flavor with salt ‘n fresh cracked black, and voila, dinner is ready to be served, madame…

Plate ‘er up on a bed of the Kabocha wedges and serve with your favorite wine…

Putting the “Bow-Chica-Wow-Wow” in this, Let’s zoom in from another angle on that…

I added just a little extra cheese for presentation, but BELIEVE me, after taking that shot, I SMOTHERED this dish with more cheese, plus a generous dose of more EVOO. MORE EVOO!!!

And how is it? Awesome, of course!

The Kabocha is what totally NAILS it. That slightly sweet, starchy accent of the pumpkin, combined with the acidity from the Cherry Tomatoes, earthiness of the Olives, Olive Oil, Shiitake and White Mushrooms, green taste of the Long Beans, plus kick of the garlic, rounded out by the aromatic essence of the Thyme and Dill just hit this OUT OF THE PARK.

If there’s anything I’d do differently next time is perhaps try using a fruitier, sweeter, less acidic wine, along with adding large slices of sauteed red onions to it for added color contrast and depth in flavor. Otherwise, winner, winner, “Pomai’s” Penne Dinner! lol Seriously though!

Best of all, I made enough to carry me out for this upcoming work week’s lunch!…

In fact, here’s my lunch today, that took less than 2 minutes in the office nuker to heat up…

Just the visual of Kabocha Pumpkin smothered in melting, ooey-gooey good Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Asiago and Parmesan has my mouth WATERING. And believe me, it tastes freekin’ DELISH!

P.S. I thought this would make for an artistic photo of a burnt piece of Kiawe tree stump someone had left from the night before on the beach…

As for my weight, I lost 2 pounds from the previous, down to 182.3. Still attacking that stubborn visceral fat, yet dishes like what I presented here today should help. I also found Choi Sum and Pak Choy to be effective at weight management, and what I use more so than lettuce in my salads. Take it slow.

20 thoughts on “Pomai’s Penne

  • August 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    That looks good! I would never have thought of using kabocha.

    I think I see baby Eeyore (or is that a kangaroo?) curled up in that first stump photo.

  • August 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I was going to say a politician, pineapple or rabbit, which if were the case, I’d be hawking on eBay right now for some BIG CASH. Remember the toast? lol

  • August 7, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Pomai, that a great dish you made there. I sometime make it with more mushrooms and will try the kabocha in it for sweet taste. Like some fish added once in a while too.

    • August 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Speaking of fish, the Olive liquid-infused Penne is so ono by itself, I was thinking about making an Ahi Penne Poke out of it, where I combine the Penne with fresh-cubed raw ahi and green onions, coating of EVOO, Hawaiian salt, and that’s it. The same might also work with the Kabocha. Not sure how that would turn out, but sounds good on “paper”!

  • August 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Pomai, I make my own pasta. It takes less than 30 min start to finish. I make the pasta dough in the Cuisinart food processor in about 2 min; then let rest in refigerator; process through Kitchen Aid stand mixer pasta attachment for desired type of pasta; fresh pasta cooks in about 3 min.I can make 10 different types of pasta.

    • August 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      One thing in the kitchen I have yet to try is making my own pasta. When I do, it will be the rustic old fashioned way, where you pour a mound of flour on a smooth clean surface, make a well in the middle for eggs, then add the eggs, fresh-cracked and mixed within the well of flour to combine the whites with the yolk. Then you gradually add the surrounding flour to the raw egg mixture in the center until fully incorporated as pasta dough. Let “proof” for so long, then make into your favorite pasta shape. Mario Batali did that all the time on his Molto Mario Food Network show.

      • August 8, 2012 at 1:10 am

        I tried it once and it seemed so easy on tv. I think resting the dough is the key. At least from what I read.

        • August 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm


          Resting the dough is the key and you wrap tightly with saran-wrap. You also knead the dough till it is smooth after resting. The Cuisinart food processor takes only 5-6 pulses before the dough mixture is mixed and balls up. If you use a pasta extruder shaper you can’t add whole spices or herbs to your pasta but if you use the pasta cutters you can add to make some incredible tasting pasta.

      • August 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm


        Been there; done that and I’m not interested in spending all that time hand making pasta dough for one person and then there is all the cleanup involved. When my wife was alive I still made my pasta the quick way. My new idea is a whole balanced meal in less than 30 min and that is why I replaced my Jet Stream Oven (JSO) with a new one. Dinner was broiled veal chop, roasted new potatoes and steamed green long beans all done at the same time 10 min total time in the JSO and clean up took less than 10 min.

        • August 10, 2012 at 5:21 am

          How do those type of oven work? Are they pretty good as far as speed and the quality of the product? I know this is a food blog but it would be pretty interesting sometimes to see a gadget showdown. I sure it would be difficult.

          • August 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm


            I owned my 1st NESCO American Harvest Jet Stream Oven back in 1990s (model JS-3500) and loved it! I purchased it in Wal-Mart with 2 accessory expander rings so I could roast 12 lb. turkeys in 1hr. 40 min. plus many other meals; new JS-4000TP model MRSP $199.95 ($179.99 on NESCO website). Without expander rings the JS-4000TP is 10” tall; 13.5” round and 18” long. It has a heating range of 200 F to 400 F; hi/low fan speed and 3 hr. digital countdown timer (if you do not set timer unit will run for 4 hrs.) that shuts the oven off and rings a bell. It cooks 3 times faster than a regular oven; 2 times faster than a convection oven and cooks about the speed of a microwave oven but nicely browning foods. It has 2 multi-position chrome wire racks so any excess fat and grease drips down into the grease pan making it healthy cooking. You can broil, bake, roast, grill, BBQ, steam, stir-fry, air-fry and air-pop popcorn in the Jet Stream Oven. Because of design it browns both sides of food at same time due to high velocity of hot air circulation. You can store it vertical to save counter or cabinet space. So far, 2 lbs. Mexican style meatballs=10 min, 3 lb. 9oz. whole crispy skin chicken=40 min, 12 oz. T-Bone steak med=10 min, 9 oz. Veal Chop=10 min, 6 strips crispy Bacon=5 min., 2 8 oz. lamb chops=15 min, 1 lb. 2oz. BBQ baby back ribs=29 min, grilled 6 oz. hamburger=8 min, ½ lb. French Fries=12 min, 8oz. steamed vegetables=10 min and U-15 BBQ shrimp=6 min. Clean up takes about 5 min without dishwasher. Accessories are expander rings (1 ring-cooking 3-4 lb. whole chicken; 2 rings-12 lb. turkey and 3 rings-15-22 lb. turkey), Vertical Turkey Roaster (needs 3-rings 15-22 lb. turkey) and non-stick Pizza/baking pan (up to 12” pizza). All other parts can be ordered as replacement parts via NESCO web site.

          • August 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm


            I also have a T-fal ActiFry USA (TeFal: European) which is a deep fat fryer made in France that is healthy because it uses only 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to deep fat fry anything including up to 2 lbs. fresh cut 1/8”X1/8” of crispy French fries. It has a stirring paddle that turns food over for even frying and freeing you up like having an assistant in the kitchen. I used it to make 5 lbs. of Buffalo chicken wings and used 2 tablespoons total of oil to fry (2 batches 2.5 lbs. each) and a broccoli-beef stir fry. World-wide recipe community has been pushing the envelope with cooking soup to stir-fry, chili, whole meals, breaded, battered, tempura and baking cupcakes in it over as there are now over 300 recipes on line and on Facebook (breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner and deserts can be made). I have a lot of cooking toys!!!

  • August 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Try using Hamakua mushroom instead of white button mushroom and pepeiao instead of shitake. Makes a lot of difference. Aloha

  • August 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Looks might tasty even though there’s no meat. I think I’d make it with bacon or pork belly. Then again, I’ve gotten used to not eating a lot of meat again back in Japan.

    As usual I learned something new from your blog. I didn’t know that “Golden Grain Pasta” was imported from Italy. I bought it because it always seems to be on sale at Times. If I didn’t make my own pasta I would usually buy De Cecco because my Italian friends thought it was the best. At the end of the day – ‘it’s just pasta’ to me. Rice on the other hand is another story.

    I had a crazy thought … making tempura with Italian herbs served with a marinara sauce. Kind of like a mozzarella stick. No, I’m not high. LOL!

  • August 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Google “Green Tea liver damage”.

    • August 9, 2012 at 2:57 am

      Doing that, the consensus is that Green Tea EXTRACTS (pills) are the culprit.


      To the contrary, see…

      Any so called “study” that claims natural green tea is “bad” for your health (liver) sounds as absurd as that one “study” that suggested Tofu is “bad” for you (brain damage).

      Last I checked, asian people who drink the most green tea and eat the most tofu (and soy in general) are some of the smartest, most fit, youthful-looking, longest-living, healthiest people walking this planet. These so called “studies” are probably done by the same “experts” who endorse the bacon industry…

      And I’m a “French Male Model”. Bonjour. lol

  • August 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I wish I could eat this off my computer screen!


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