The really luxurious thing about a simple pasta, like this Penne with Roasted Zucchini, is that you can make enough for several days’ lunches but never have exactly the same thing twice, just by adding this-and-that to your bowl.

Not that you would have to add anything.

This pasta – a big mess of roasted zucchini, garlic and onion tossed with pasta, fresh basil and Parmesan – can stand on its own.

But it’s like first grade without the glitter.

You’ve really got to open up the fridge and start tossing things in: goat cheese, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, kalamata olives, sliced plum tomato, grilled chicken or shrimp, prosciutto, Italian sausage, garbanzo beans, fresh corn, toasted pine nuts, pesto, sautéed mushrooms, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds, eggplant, your favorite pasta sauce – whatever your heart and belly desire.

Then you can use the time you save eating leftovers on something truly meaningful, like working out, generally bettering yourself or finishing season five of “The Wire.”

Roasted Zucchini Pasta

Heavily adapted from “Bon Appetit”(October 2010)

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 small sweet Vidalia onion or 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces penne or ziti, dry, preferably whole grain
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Feta or goat cheese, to taste (optional)
  • Optional additions: sun-dried tomatoes, sliced plum tomatoes, fresh corn, black olives, mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, pesto, roasted red pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss zucchini, onion, garlic and 3 tablespoons oil in bowl. Spread into a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until zucchini is lightly browned, turning once, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid before draining the pasta. Return pasta to pot. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil; cover and set aside.
  4. Stir the roasted vegetables into the pasta.
  5. Add 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, and stir over medium heat until heated through.
  6. Add basil and cheese. Toss, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if dry. Taste, and adjust your seasonings. Serve immediately.