Feb 19, 2013

Baked penne with vegetables

So, I had an early lunch. Very much unlike me and I very much liked it. This hearty Italian dish is full of Italian flavor not to mention vegetables that actually taste good.

The original recipe called for red bell peppers and summer squash. But this is not baking. You can use anything you like or anything you want to get rid off because, in the end, everything is going to taste good. That goes for vegetables and cheeses. Parmesan is the only must. I didn't have fontina cheese nor smoked mozzarella. But I did grated (not fresh) mozzarella. The important thing is to make enough of good marinara sauce. And not to overcook the pasta as the pasta will continue cooking when in the oven. Overcooked pasta tastes like a bad memory from a bad restaurant.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

time: 30 min preparation + 25 min baking = 55 min


500 g (1 lbs) pasta penne
1 big carrot
4 medium zucchinis
1 big onion
250 g (1/2 lbs) white mushrooms
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan + 1/3 cup for topping
1 1/2 cup (about 150 g) grated Mozzarella
4 cups marinara sauce
1/2 Tablespoon basil  
1/2 Tablespoon oregano
about 1 teaspoon salt 
about 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons (30 g) butter in small cubes


Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Cut vegetables in about 1 inch (2 cm) cubes. Spread them on a baking sheet, cover with olive oil, basil, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, until tender but still colorful. 

Meanwhile, if you don't have a marinara sauce ready, make it at this time. It takes about 30 minutes.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted (extra salt) water for only 6 minutes. It normally takes 9 minutes. Drain it. Put it back in the pot (stove top off), add roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix it gently with a wooden spoon making sure all the pasta and vegetables are covered with sauce. 

Transfer everything onto a 9 x 13 x 2 inch (23 x 33 x 5 cm) greased (extra olive oil) glass baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of Parmesan and butter pieces. Place it in the hot oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Check it occasionally, if the top pieces are getting burned, mix them into the dish and turn the top of the oven off. 

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