It’s been cold and gray for days on end here, and that has me craving vegetables. Not sensible wintry root vegetables but bold, bright, summery, grows-in-the-sun vegetables. Sunshine-get-in-mah-belleh vegetables. Red peppers and zucchini and summer squash. Vegetables that are notta so hotta right now.
Unless you roast them.
Roasting these out-of-season vegetables intensifies their flavors, bringing the best out of even the puniest squash. Just slice and cube your favorites until they fill a half baking sheet, and toss them with olive oil, garlic and seasonings. Ahhhh.
But then what do you do with all that goodness?
You can …
•Use them to fill an omelet.
•Toss them with couscous and feta.
•Pile them on top of a big bowl of grits.
•Mix them with your spaghetti.
•Scatter them on top of a pizza.
•Use them to jazz up a veggie side, like these French String Beans.
•Spoon them over a twice-baked potato.
Or, you can try this Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. Combine the vegetables with cooked pasta, cheese, thawed peas, seasonings and your favorite marinara. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, and bake it for about 25 minutes. You’ll get a baked pasta with the warmth of a winter comfort food but the flavors of summer.
It’ll have you humming “Here Comes The Sun” in no time.
“Sun, sun, sun, here it comes …”
Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (“Everyday Italian,” Food Network)
Makes 6 large servings
- 1 to 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 to 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 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
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 pound penne pasta (I used the Barilla Whole Grain Penne.)
- 3 cups really good marinara sauce
- 1 cup grated fontina cheese (can be replaced with Gruyere or Gouda, or just use more mozzarella)
- 1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus 1/3 cup for topping)
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces (optional)
- 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. Drain.
- Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add 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. After the pasta has been in the oven for 10 minutes, turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.