Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Noodle Love IV: Penne

Everyone is excited about spring, and I can’t join in. Not yet. I’m not ready for spring. I still have too many winter dishes to make. You see, every time I find a recipe I want to try (which is often), I add it to the queue. With my schedule being what it is, I’m not able to do the cooking as quickly as I’m able to do the finding, and I still have a list of soups, stews, and baked pastas I’m not ready to give up on.

It’s supposed to be 65 degrees here in Maryland today. Soon it’ll reach 70—warm enough to open the windows but not to turn on the air conditioner—and I will insist on turning on the oven to make chicken and biscuits, and our small apartment will become very hot, and I will get very cranky, and I already feel bad for Adam because I see where this is going. But I must make the recipes! I can’t wait another year. And meanwhile I’m collecting spring recipes, and pretty soon I’ll have too many of those, and so the cycle will continue.

This is why I can’t get excited about spring. But the good news is that this dish, Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, can become a spring dish.

As it is, I’d say it’s mostly suited to late fall/early winter. Turning on the oven to roast vegetables doesn’t initially scream “Spring!” to me. But I think that it can if you just play with the ingredients a bit. You could swap out the zucchini and peppers for asparagus and artichokes and use diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. Or even use roasted cherry tomatoes. Personally, I can’t stop wondering how this would taste with my favorite roasted vegetable of all time—Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts and pasta sounds sort of strange, but I’ll never know for sure unless I try it. So I’m adding that to the queue, as well.

Also, I want to point out that this dish is easier than it might seem. Just cook the pasta while the vegetables are in the oven, and when they’re both done, toss them together in a big bowl (or your pasta pot) with the sauce and cheese. Bake and you’re done.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Adapted from Giada’s Penne with Roasted Vegetables

1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
5 garlic cloves, lightly smashed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix
1/2 pound penne pasta
2 cups marinara sauce
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, garlic, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. When they’re done, lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined. If your mixture seems a bit too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water until you reach the desired consistency. Remember that the pasta will continue to cook in the oven and absorb some of the sauce/liquid.

Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 20 minutes. Top with parsley.

I’m thinking I’ll submit this to Presto Pasta Nights, which I’ve never done before but sounds fun. Who can ever have enough pasta recipes? Not me.


Patsyk said...

That dish looks incredible! I think it is totally worth heating up the kitchen in the spring for this one!

Kevin said...

That pasta looks so tasty. Roasted vegetables and pasta baked with cheese on top...mmm...

giz said...

Easy and satisfying - just keep the windows open

Ruth Daniels said...

The dish does look wonderful and thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. I do hope you join in the fun often.

As for not being done with're on your own with that one!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

What a colorful and tasty looking plate of food.

Holler said...

This looks lovely, I will definitely make this. I have guests tomorrow night, so it may get an airing then!

Kelly said...

this recipe looks amazing! in fact, i posted it as my Daily Eat today.