Effortless Early Fall Baked Penne with Garlicky Toast



I’ m often asked for super easy weeknight dishes, and one of my go-to meals is pasta. I like to use the pasta as a canvas to play with interesting flavors and textures. This dish is a combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and savory and I think it’s a home-run!

Try it out.


 Early Fall Baked Penne

1 eggplant, diced

1 head fennel, diced

12 small brussel sprouts, quartered

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tsp hot pepper flake

1 T chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grate pecornio romano cheese

1/2 cup pasta water

3 roma tomatoes, chopped

1 box penne rigate

1/4 cup aged goat cheese, grated (If you can’t get an aged goat cheese, use fresh and crumble into the pasta, it will make a different texture but will be delish!)

4 oz pancetta

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Heat a large pot of water to the cook the pasta. Cook the pasta to instructions on the box, drain and keep 1/2 cup of pasta water, drizzle the drained pasta with a touch of oil. Set aside.
  •  In a large saute pan heat 1 T of olive oil and add your pancetta.
  • Brown the pancetta over medium heat until crispy.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon, and leave the pork fat in the pan for flavor. 🙂
  • Add your eggplant in, turn the heat to high. Cook for several minutes to start to soften the eggplant.
  • Add in your fennel and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add in your sliced garlic and cook for 2 minutes, keep the heat high-medium high.
  • Add in your brussels sprouts, tomatoes, golden raisins, hot pepper flake, and oregano.
  • Cook for 2-3 to start to soften and brown the vegetables.
  • When they start to color, add in the pasta water.
  • Cook until eggplant is soft and brussels sprouts are halfway cooked.
  • The sauce should start to get thick, season with salt and pepper.
  • In a baking dish, mix in pasta, your sautéed vegetables, pancetta, pine nuts, pecorino and grated aged goat cheese.
  • Top with more grated pecorino and aged goat cheese.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. The cheese should be melted and golden brown.

Garlicky Toasts

1/2 loaf rustic italian bread cut into 6 slices

2 T butter

2 T Good olive oil ( I use Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane

salt and pepper

sprinkle grated pecorino

  • Combine butter with grated garlic (minced if you do not have a microplane)
  • Mix in olive oil
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Smear compound butter on bread slices, top with sprinkle of pecorino
  • Bake until golden brown and delicious – about 4-5 minutes in a 400 degree oven

Hope you try it out! SO simple and delicious


Chef Sean Gallagher

Dinner on the table in 20 Minutes


20 Minute Meal

Sometimes you only have a short amount of time to get a meal together. If I am really in a pinch, I go for a simple pasta dish. There’s nothing better than homemade gnocchi, but when in doubt head out and buy the best quality prepared gnocchi you can. I love to boil the gnocchi and when they are soft, I sauté then in brown butter. What a difference it makes and elevates a very simple food. I recently topped some brown butter gnocchi with a very rustic ratatouille, made from farm fresh zucchini and summer squash, beautiful tomatoes and eggplant, garlic, onions, peppers, and oregano. Stewed together and finished with fresh grated parmesan and basil. The combination of brown butter and tomato based sauce is out of this world and I would recommend you try it with any pasta dish.




Carnitas - braised pork tacos with white onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, lime, hot sauce

Carnitas – braised pork tacos with white onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, lime, hot sauce

I bought a 5 pound pork shoulder last week and have trying to think what to make. I love pork because of its versatility, you can give it any kind of flavoring, and cook it multiple ways.

In the kitchen, I would make 50-100 pounds of roast pork in a day. I would cover the pork shoulders in a dry rub of brown sugar, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, onion powder, a ton of salt and pepper. Then cover it with mustard and ketchup (Weird I know, but a delish tip from Daryl – Thanks Daryl!). Cover the whole lot of them in chicken stock and let them braise for 6 hours. The result, the most delicious, decadent.. salty, fatty pulled pork.

Today I am trying something different, I’m cutting the cooking time by 1/2 by cutting the meat smaller, and boiling, then roasting it.

Carnitas - braised pork tacos with white onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, lime, hot sauce

Carnitas – braised pork tacos with white onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, lime, hot sauce


Prep: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 2.5 hours

5 pound Boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 inch cubes

2 cups chopped vegetables: I say use whatever you have on its way out in the crisper, I had some celery, onion, carrots, and bell pepper scraps.

8 cloves garlic

2 limes, cut in half

1 jalapeño, cut in half

1 cup orange juice

1 bottle light beer, I used corona

1 T Mexican oregano

1 T ground cumin

2 T kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups water

Pork ready to go!

Pork ready to go!

  • Cut your pork shoulder into 3 inch cubes, you can cut off some of the fat if you would like or leave it for more flavor.
  • In a large pot add your vegetables, pork, spices, limes, garlic, and pour in your orange juice and beer.
  • Fill the rest of the pot with water just to cover the pork.
  • Bring to  boil and then reduce to a simmer, cook in a covered pot for 2 hours.
  • When the meat is tender, turn off the heat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes so its can rest inside the liquid.
Pork braising, an hour in.

Pork braising, an hour in.

  • Remove the meat and cut off any large fat chunks, smash the meat into large pieces.
  • Strain the braising liquid, removing all the veggie remnants.
  • Put the strained liquid back on the burner, reduce down to a syrup. Should take 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove your syrup and pour it over the shredded pork. Put the pork on a sheet pan in an even layer and place in your broiler.
Pork just removed and pulled

Pork just removed and pulled

  • The pork will become crispy and brown in the broiler after 5-10 minutes. If you want some char leave it in longer.
Crispy pork, after the broiler. You can leave it in longer if you want more of a char

Crispy pork, after the broiler. You can leave it in longer if you want more of a char

  • It is now ready to serve. Eat it in corn or flour tortillas with raw white onion, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, and cotija cheese. Delish!


Carnitas - Pork tacos

Carnitas – Pork tacos


This meal was really easy to prepare and a hit! The texture of the meat is different than pulled pork, its more sticky and chewy, and after broiling, crispy. I love it, and its definitely a meal I will make time and time again.



Thank you.


Sean Patrick Gallagher