One of my guilty pleasure comfort foods is this super creamy garlic penne pasta. It is so rich and decadent I rarely make it – but when I do it’s such a treat. This recipe for the creamiest garlic penne pasta ever only requires 5 ingredients so it’s the perfect meal when you just don’t know what to have for dinner!
This pasta is a comfort food to the max. And although it takes nearly an hour, almost all that time is waiting for the garlic to roast in the oven. Yep! This penne pasta uses roasted garlic to achieve that great garlic flavor without the sharpness. Wait until you see how many cloves this recipe uses.
I love cooking with penne pasta and to be honest it has to be one of my favorite store-bought pastas. Compared to things like pappardelle or fettuccine which I often make at home, penne pretty much needs to be bought dry.
What Is Roasted Garlic
Just as the name describes, roasted garlic is garlic that has been…roasted. Ok that still might be undescriptive for some, so I’ll explain WHY roasted garlic is so good.
Regular garlic can have a strong, sharp, and even astringent taste. And the less it is cooked the more that bite comes out. While this is awesome in dishes like garlic bread or in pickling, it doesn’t work in other ways. Roasted garlic lets the bulbs cook low and slow to caramelize the sugars in the cloves so you are left with pure garlic flavor with none of the sharpness.
How To Cook Roasted Garlic
For this recipe, which serves four people by the way, we are using two whole bulbs of garlic. Yes, you read that right. TWO! First you will need to cut a square of foil and lay it down on a flat surface.
Next, use a sharp knife to evenly cut the top off the garlic bulb trying to expose as many cloves as you can. I usually cut off about a centimeter so there is more surface to get roasted. Then, drizzle the bulbs with olive oil and wrap up with foil.
When you wrap the garlic bulbs to be roasted, make sure to leave a chimney to allow steam to escape. I usually do this by wrapping the foil around a chopstick and then removing the stick after the foil is tight.
Place the bulbs on an oven safe pan or tray and pop in an oven at 175C or 350F for 45 minutes.
How To Make The Creamiest Garlic Penne Pasta
This recipe only needs a few ingredients but do try to use quality ones. I always say on my recipes where the ingredient count is so low, you really have to pay special attention to avoiding cheap or low quality ingredients as they can ruin a dish.
- 250 grams Dry Penne Pasta – I suggest buying a quality pasta, preferably one that is made ‘trafilata en bronzo’. This means the pasta was extruded from a bronze cast die and the surface is a bit rough. This helps sauces stick. Not to mention pastas like this are usually made with higher quality flour than your basic blue box stuff (you know what I’m talking about).
- 1.5 cups Heavy Cream – (375ml) Can also use whipping cream instead as the fat difference is only a few percentage points.
- 2 bulbs Garlic – try to get nice evenly shaped ones as they cut and roast better than wonky or lopsided bulbs.
- Olive Oil – as needed for roasting the garlic. You’re probably looking at around a tbsp per bulb although most will run off into the foil
- Hard Salty Cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Gran Padano. To taste.
- Salt – For the pasta water. For the sauce it is optional. If you use enough cheese you don’t need extra salt. If you are only using a little cheese then a pinch of salt here will not go amiss.
- 1 tsp White Pepper – optional. This will add a nice flavor to your sauce without creating black specks that freshly cracked black pepper will add. The flavor is different than black pepper but it goes great in this garlic cream sauce.
Begin by boiling your pasta to al dente according to your package instructions. Mine takes 12 minutes, which is the perfect time to make the sauce. Don’t start the pasta until the garlic is finished though. I also highly suggest making a few extra bulbs of roasted garlic as well as it can last in the fridge a while and is great smeared on toast, or with some roasted bone marrow.
Roasted garlic is extremely easy to remove from the skin. Just grab the bottom of the garlic bulb and squeeze the soft cloves right out onto a cutting board. I like to use a napkin since the garlic paper is quite oily, but it’s entirely unnecessary.
Mash all of the roasted garlic into a fine paste using a fork.
In a pan add your cream and roasted garlic mash and place on medium heat. We don’t want to thicken the cream too much or it will need to be diluted later. The goal is just warm enough to melt the cheese into evenly, as well as stay creamy for the pasta.
Add your cheese and whisk it in. If you grate the cheese finely enough (I use a microplane) it should melt in extremely well. Note: if you add too much cheese you will essentially thicken the sauce way too much. In that case add a little water or milk to thin it out and keep whisking.
Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water and taste your sauce to see if it needs more salt or some white pepper. Then add in your drained penne pasta. Give everything a good mix until you have a very creamy garlic penne pasta. If you find the sauce too thick add a few more spoons of the pasta water.
Try These Other Delicious Penne Pasta Recipes
- Penne Alla Vodka
- Tequila Chicken Penne
- Lemon Caper Penne
- Penne Pasta With Pork Belly And Poached Egg
Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta
- 1 Pot
- 1 Pan
- 1 Oven
- 1 Aluminum Foil
- 250 grams Dry Penne Pasta I suggest buying a quality pasta preferably one that is made 'trafilata en bronzo'. This means the pasta was extruded from a bronze cast die and the surface is a bit rough. This helps sauces stick. Not to mention pastas like this are usually made with higher quality flour than your basic blue box stuff (you know what I'm talking about).
- 1.5 cups Heavy Cream 375ml. Can also use whipping cream instead as the fat difference is only a few percentage points.
- 2 bulbs Garlic try to get nice evenly shaped ones as they cut and roast better than wonky or lopsided bulbs.
- Olive Oil as needed for roasting the garlic. You're probably looking at around a tbsp per bulb although most will run off into the foil
- Hard Salty Cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano Pecorino Romano, or Gran Padano. To taste.
- Salt For the pasta water. For the sauce it is optional. If you use enough cheese you don't need extra salt. If you are only using a little cheese then a pinch of salt here will not go amiss.
- 1 tsp White Pepper optional. This will add a nice flavor to your sauce without creating black specks that freshly cracked black pepper will add. The flavor is different than black pepper but it goes great in this garlic cream sauce.
- Cut about a centimeter off the top of each bulb of garlic to expose most of the cloves. Drizzle over some olive oil and wrap them in foil leaving a little chimney hole for steam to escape. Place on an ovenproof tray or pan and bake at 175C or 350F for 45 minutes.
- Once the garlic is done begin boiling your pasta water and penne according to package instructions. Make sure the water is heavily salted.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves from the 'paper' onto a cutting board. Mash them up into a fine paste with a fork.
- In a pan on medium heat add the cream and garlic paste and whisk together. As the cream warms up you can add in some of the grated cheese. If you add too much and it gets too thick add a few tablespoons of pasta water.
- Add a few tablespoons of pasta water and then drain the penne. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed and white pepper if you are using it. Add the pasta to the cream sauce and give everything a good mix. Plate, serve, and enjoy!