Aside from or cutting and chopping a mound of vegetables, there's nothing tricky about this dish. The hardest part is "peeling" the butternut squash. Don't ever believe a recipe that tells you to "peel" the butternut. Unless your squash has ripened to a state of mush or your peeler is super-powered, you'll spend a lot of time cursing the squash and nicking and cutting your fingers. I don't suggest you try it. Instead, I usually just cut the skin off, losing some of the squash in the process. If you're opposed to such needless waste (I'm filled with guilt every time I look at the perfectly good squash I throw out, not that it stops me), you can also halve the squash, put it a small glass bowl/pan filled with 1-2 inches of water and microwave it for 10-15 minutes. That will soften the squash to the point where you can actually cut the skin off without much waste. Or you could eliminate the butternut (which I wouldn't recommend- it adds such a buttery, nutty flavor to the dish) and substitute another type of squash or even eggplant.
Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (foodnetwork.com)
Pictures by Kelly
Makes 1 very large 9x13 pan
2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 butternut squash, skinned 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**
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
- 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 25 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 (half the Parmesan), 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. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.
**Using smoked mozzarella will add a distinct flavor to your dish. If you don't like the smokey taste or can't find it in your supermarket, regular mozzarella will also do.