Penne Pasta - a Gracepoint Fellowship classic!

Quick Look_______________

This recipe is a classic at Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Berkeley. Maybe you had it one time during small group and wondered how to make it.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: about 45mins
  • Difficulty: intermediate/easy - make sure you coat everything evenly. It's difficult to toss 30 portions worth of pasta.
  • Labor Intensity: Could do it alone, but it'd help to have 1-2 people.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2-3 bunches) [$1 maybe?]
  • 4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes [34 oz jar, $8 at San Leandro Costco, or 24oz (6cups) at smart and final $12 ]
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream [$5 at safeway, $6 for 2 qt (1/2 gallon) at Costco] (you can use half & half as a healthier option)
  • 1 tablespoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (or 1/3 cup dried basil) [$3-4 at safeway]
  • 6 pound penne pasta [4lbs for 4.99 at smart and final on International st]
  • 8 cup [2lbs] sliced (don't use grated) Parmesan cheese [2lb for $8.19 at smart and final on International]
  • 8-10lb boneless chicken breast or thigh [$16-$20 when on sale at safeway]
  • [Optional] a few red bell peppers
  • Total: somewhere around $45.00-$50.00


  • Place a pot of water on the stove to boil in a large stock pot
  • Chop chicken into 1/2 inch x 1 inch strips
  • Drain sun dried tomatoes and cut into 1/2 inch slices, discard oil or use in next step.
  • Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, cream, sliced red bell peppers and crushed red pepper; simmer over medium heat 2 minutes.
  • Stir in basil and turn to low heat and simmer.
  • In another pan, cook the chicken. When moisture comes out of the chicken, drain it out of the pan. Make sure there is a little oil in the pan so the chicken doesn't stick. Fully cook the chicken.
  • Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. [about 8-9 minutes, but follow directions on pasta box]
  • Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid in another bowl.
  • Pour pasta into aluminum tray(s).
  • Add cream sauce, cheese, and chicken and toss to coat.
  • Add enough reserved cooking liquid to pasta to moisten if dry.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

A box of pasta will suggest 8 servings per pound. In real life, a pound of pasta will feed 5-6 college students.
Pasta should be about 90% cooked before draining. When the sauce is added, the heat will cook it a little more. I personally like it about 95% cooked, with a slight firmness (al dente). One way you can check for doneness is by biting into the noodle. The center of uncooked noodles will be white and look raw. I like when it has just a hint/speck of that or just barely beyond.
This volume of pasta will be difficult to toss in a pot. It's easier to toss all the pasta and coat with sauce in an aluminum tray with large, strong tongs or spatulas/serving spoons. You can also serve in the aluminum tray.
[Possible side dish] Garlic bread, salad


Anonymous said…
I ate this one time during one of the summer dinner/bible studies and it was really yummy!
Anonymous said…
You can substitute Half 'N Half for heavy whipping cream in pasta sauce for a slightly healthier alternative (still tastes good).
tomkim said…
thanks for the tip!
Mike Ho said…
This was a hit for peer dinner and now I will use this for a small group dinner!

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