Penne alla senese


That is: penne with sausage, walnuts and cream.  It sounds so much more exotic in Italian.

The day I made this dish I wasn’t looking for anything exotic.  I was just needing something, anything in fact, for dinner.  Sometimes, when you have lots of cook books, it is harder to find something to cook than if you have only a few.  It is a bit like when you have a limited wardrobe – it doesn’t take long to figure out what to wear but, when you have several wardrobes of clothes, the decision is significantly harder.

As usual, we were posing the perennial question to each other, “What shall we have for dinner?”, when inspiration struck.  I got up, walked into the study, and took Twelve A Tuscan Cookbook, by Tessa Kiros, off the shelf.  My logic was, Tessa’s recipes are often simple which was just what I needed.  As luck would have it, I had previously tagged three recipes in the book.  Penne alla senese what the first recipe tagged.   I read it and didn’t look any further.  It was as simple as simple can be.  I was set.  Sometimes, most times in fact, simplicity is just what you need.  This dish has the added bonus of being delicious, pity it is not particularly photogenic.

Serves two, with some left over for lunch the next day.


  • 250g penne
  • 20g butter
  • 3 Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
  • 100g walnuts, finely chopped
  • 50g prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 3 tbs* brandy
  • 250 mls thickened cream
  • 120g parmesan

*These are 15 mil tablespoons.


  1. Put your penne on to cook.
  2. Melt the butter in a sauté pan.
  3. Add the sausage meat and walnuts.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, breaking up the sausage meat.
  4. Add the prosciutto and sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the brandy and, when it has evaporated, add the cream. Cook until heated through (just a minute or two).
  6. When cooked, drain the penne and add it to the sauté pan.
  7. Add the parmesan cheese, toss to coat.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, if required.
  9. Serve immediately.

8 thoughts on “Penne alla senese

  1. Terrible timing on my part… I just used the last of the walnuts on top of a pear and blue cheese tart. But they’re on the shopping list. Sometimes a simple cucina povera pasta dish is just what I need to make the world right.

    • Hi, You are so right. I am a big fan of pasta, but those days when I really don’t feel like cooking it becomes my very favourite.

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