Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meatless Monday - Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies

Happy (meatless) Monday to you! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, I did! I had a birthday on Friday, and immensely enjoyed my birthday weekend.

This week's meatless recipe hails from one of my all time favorite chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis. I simply adore her, and her recipes. I've been making this one for about five years now and it never ceases to impress. Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies, this recipe is so flavorful and decadent with three cheeses, that you won't miss the meat. It's got zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, crimini mushrooms and onion but you could really use any veggies you like (that can handle roasting). I've made this with asparagus before, and that's worked wonderfully. If you don't like a veggie that's in the recipe, just omit and add extra of something else. For the cheesey cheese, this recipe has fontina, smoked mozzarella (I used smoked gouda) and parmesan. I've used regular mozzarella in place of smoked mozzarella. I just don't always love smoked cheese.

This recipe can be made a few hours or days ahead of time, and you can even freeze it! You would just defrost it completely, and you might need to add a bit of time to the cooking time because everything will be chilled from the fridge. I've also made large quantities of this, it holds up well in a buffet/potluck atmosphere.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, from Giada DeLarentiis

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

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