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An Italian Dinner Menu from Smart & Final #ChooseSmart

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Pasta and cheese – what get’s better than that? Well, ever since I found this recipe for Penne with Five Cheeses I have been have been touting it as a Grown-Up Mac-n-Cheese. I make if for my family and I serve it for company – it is easy, fast, delicious, and decadent! I balance the meal out with a nice hearty green salad, grilled Italian sausage for my husband who eats less carbs, and crusty garlic bread. This dinner menu has something for everyone!

An Italian Family Dinner

I have served this meal many, many times, and it is always met with raving compliments. I have even prepped multiple pans of the pasta for a large party to the point of popping it into the oven – then just before serving, the pasta is placed into the oven for 10 minutes and voilà bubbling hot creamy Grown-Up Mac-N-Cheese ready for a large party.

Five Cheese Penne

Right now we are heading into fall – the days are still warm and the nights are getting cooler. This menu is perfect for the cooler nights of autumn. I gotta say I set a beautiful table – but with football on the TV and the weather perfect, we all dished up our plates and headed outside to enjoy our dinner on the patio while watching football on our outdoor TV.

Italian Tablescape

This is a simple tablescape using my olive branch dinnerware and an empty La Romanella olive oil can that I have saved expressly to use as a vase for a floral centerpieces for Italian dinners.

La Romanella Center Piece

Italian Dinner Table

Earlier in the afternoon my son and a friend of his came by for a short visit. The short visit was centered around my son claiming the futon from his bedroom because he needs a couch in his apartment and of course throwing in a load of laundry. Whatever the reason – I am always happy to spend time with our children! And I am so thrilled that one of the older kids is actually living close enough for a quick visit! Since I knew they would be coming by, but not staying for dinner, I picked up a few deli items to put together a antipasto platter – a few yummy bites to nosh on while watching football, washing laundry, and enjoying lots of conversation.

Antipasto platter

I love antipasto platters – they are so easy to put together! There is always something on the platter that appeals to everyone. A quick stop to the deli and cheese section while shopping at Smart and Final was all that was needed. When I put together my platters I always include an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, and olives – but then I also add something sweet (apricot jam), something juicy (grapes), and something crunchy (almonds). I  also add a plate of assorted crackers, a glass full of breadsticks, along with cheese spreaders and party picks. Easy – peasy and oh, so delicious!

Antipasto platter

My Five Cheese Penne comes originally from my Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook. As I have made this many times, I often mix up the cheeses. You really can’t go wrong as long as you choose cheeses that you enjoy and blend well.  The recipe is very adaptable.

Five Cheese Penne Recipe (also called Adult Mac-n-Cheese)

Five Cheese Penne Ingredients


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup First Street crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 pound La Romanella Penne Lisce pasta
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot.
  3. In a large mixing bowl stir together all of the ingredients except the pasta and butter.Five Cheese Penne
  4. When the water is boiling add the penne, but only cook for 4 −5 minutes. It will cook more in the oven.
  5.  Drain well and add to the cheese mixture. Stir well.Five Cheese Penne
  6. Pour into a large 10×13 glass baking dish.
  7. Dot pasta mixture with cut up butter.  (I have prepped to this point for large parties – covered and refrigerated. Bake a little longer if it is going into the oven cold.)Five Cheese Penne
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.

This entire meal is so easy since I can pick up everything I need at my local Smart & Final! I love that my local Smart & Final was recently renovated. The moment you walk into the store you are met with a beautiful produce section. I can find lots of organic and local produce.  Smart & Final is much smaller the our big box warehouse store – which makes it faster to get in and out, but it also features club buy items (all of these are tagged in the store) and they are great great for buying in bulk and freezable meals. This works so well for my large family!

Smart & Final

Smart & Final Italian DinnerThey have so many wonderful choices it makes shopping Smart & Final a breeze!

Smart & Final Italian DinnerBut if you don’t have time shop yourself – check out their new grocery delivery program. As part of their rebranding they have added a delivery service at some of their locations. Check Smart & Final Grocery Delivery to see if a store near you offers this time saving program. If so, you can get $5 off and free delivery with promo code: SMART5. How cool is that?!?

And just because, we topped of our dinner with a little sweetness – Belgian Cream Puffs (found in the frozen dessert section) drizzled with chocolate sauce. Passing around the plate to share give us just the right sized dessert! A wonderful and easy family dinner – yummy and impressive enough for company.

Belgian Cream Puffs

Italian Dinner Party

Be sure to also check out Smart & Final’s Facebook page and on Twitter for even more ideas and deals! And also be sure to check out lots of great recipes at Smart & Final. I’d love to hear your favorite.

Below is the printable version of the Five Cheese Penne adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook.

An absolutely delicious Italian Family Dinner Menu - perfect for family and company! Yum!


(18) Comments

  1. Stacey, that mac and cheese is so delicious sounding. I think it is one my family would love. You do set a great table, but I can understand why everyone wanted to get outside before the cold weather gets here. Of course, in CA that is not very cold!

  2. I love it! Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. I’m a big fan of Italian dishes. They make everyone smile.

  3. Looks Delicious, I love eating family style!

  4. This meal looks amazing! And your center piece is so rustic and charming.

  5. This dinner looks delicious! I love the cheese plate and the pastas are “yum yum”. The table decor is so nice, simple but stylish! I bet it was an awesome dinner!

  6. That macaroni and cheese dish looks really appetizing. I must admit, I really love eating other people’s mac&cheese because I don’t feel like I’ve ever really mastered this dish (to my liking). That antipasto spread looks delicious! You nailed the Italian Dinner Party! Love how you incorporated the olive oil into your tablescape.

  7. I love the old olive oil container used as a vase – so cute! Huge fan of antipasto platters, so easy and they look so fancy 🙂

  8. Wow!! This all seriously sounds and looks so incredibly delicious! Italian is one of my favorite types of food to cook and enjoy, I wish I had you as a close friend so I could be your taste tester 😉

  9. that looks really good. i might have to make this soon. pasta is my weakness.

  10. Looks amazing – I’ve made a similar mac and cheese thanks to a weight watchers recipe but my pictures didn’t turn out nearly as nice.

  11. I’m so drooling right now! I’m not sure which looks better, the salad, the antipasti, the pasta or those creampuffs! Love your napkinrings, too… where did you find them?

  12. This all sounds so delicious! I love Italian food!

  13. Everything on your Italian dinner table looks delicious! What a beautiful spread, looks like you were cooking for days.

  14. Yum! And I love how you used the olive oil container as a vase!

  15. This looks amazing! I definitely wouldn’t be as ashamed to eat this “grown up mac and cheese” as I am when I sneak my sons easy mac! haha

  16. Well, now I want pasta. 😀 I love a simple way to get family together and what better way than a smart dinner?!?!

  17. Yummy! That pasta looks amazing, I must try this asap!!

  18. Antipasto is so important to an Italian meal, brava! And I love the vase!

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