Simple Penne Pasta Recipe + Barilla® Pronto™ Review

*I received this product free of charge for the purposes of an honest review. *
 Review written by Science Lovin’ Papa

Simple Penne Pasta 

First things first, this is a really simple recipe. In fact, calling it a recipe seems like I’m giving it too much credit! 

What You Need:

  • 1 box of  Barilla® Pronto™ penne pasta
  • 1 jar of tomato sauce of your choice
  • can of mushrooms (optional)
  • ground beef – browned 

What You Do:

  1. Cook the penne following directions on the packaging
  2. Add tomato sauce, ground beef, and mushrooms.
  3. Serve with garlic bread.

 

That’s it! Super fast and easy dinner that everyone will love. 

 

Barilla® Pronto™ Review

 Okay, I get it: No one has time to cook anymore.
 
For better than seventy years this has been the advertising line from the food industry. Since the early 1950’s and the emergence of the ‘One Pot Meal’ it’s been a staple of our existence that ‘No one has time to cook like Grandma anymore’.
 
Turns out Grandma did what she did for some very good reasons, reasons that made our meal better even if it took a little longer. Barilla Pronto pasta is here to help us outline some of those reasons.
 
At the outset there’s nothing about this process that looks like it’s going to ruin your meal. However, let me assure you that if you follow the directions a series of unavoidable errors is going to quickly overwhelm whatever pasta dish you tried to make.
 
The entire premise of Pronto Pasta is stated right on the front of the box; that it is “One Pan-No Boil-No Drain”. Let’s start with the “One Pan” idea. 
 
Am I really making this pasta dish with only one pan? So…the sauce is…coming from a jar? Right, I forgot: no one has time. The back of the pasta box does not give me a specific sauce but directs me to the company website for recipes. What do I find there? Why, an elegant and expansive list of the Barilla Sauces for those that don’t have time. Do I even need to mention that meat and fresh vegatables aren’t going to be part of our “One Pan” dish?
 
Moving on, let’s examine the “No Boil” idea. This is not only the center phrase on the box, it’s the central idea behind Pronto Pasta: You don’t have to wait for water to boil. Not even  five minutes. Or ten. During which time you could start the meat cooking. *cough*
 
Okay, I heard you: No time! So you pour the box into a pan along with three cups of water, making sure that the water covers the pasta. My first try was penne pasta and three pots and I couldn’t find a pot in which the water would cover the pasta. So you’re going to be stirring that pasta. A lot. As the water gets absorbed and reduces you’ll have to stir more. Instead of tossing some pasta into boiling water and forgetting about it I spent the entire ten minutes of cook time pretty much stirring pasta. But I don’t have to worry about any other pots, right?
 
As the cook time comes to a close the instructions say most of the water will be absorbed. You read that right: most. But this is “No Drain” pasta and so we’re going to ignore that fact and add our pre-selected jar of sauce.
 
Congratulations! After being chained to a stove for ten minutes you have perfect noodles in a watery sauce. Wait…something’s not right here…
 
The most damning nail in the coffin for Barilla Pronto comes right here at service time. Because this is “No Drain” pasta it’s never been cooled. It’s still cooking even as the sauce warms. That means I, as the cook, am faced with the terrible choice of feeding my family perfectly cooked pasta in a cool, watery sauce or let the sauce cook down; inevitably turning my perfect noodles into a starchy mess. I have an idea kids: Let’s go have dinner at Grandma’s house!
 
Barilla is one of my favorite brands of pasta but I can’t call this anything aside from what it is: A terrible wrong to the cooks of America. It’s on your grocery shelf now but if you’ll take my opinion? Don’t buy unless it costs less than their ordinary pasta.
 
Never be told you don’t have time to cook. Take the time to enjoy the process, to savor the smells and tastes. Your family can endure that ten extra minutes. Even if your pasta dish isn’t worth it, you most certainly are.
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