Friday, August 28, 2009

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time. I've been waiting and waiting to share it with you...waiting until it was harvest time and you could get all these vegetables fresh from your garden or farmer's market. It's super healthy (well, minus the cheese) and hearty enough that even the most carnivorous eater will enjoy it.

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 (
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
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
*I would suggest roasting the squash about 10-15 minutes before you add the other vegetables. If you don't, you'll end up with either perfect zucchini, mushrooms and peppers and slightly crunchy squash, or squishy zucchini, mushrooms and peppers and perfect squash.
**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.


Valerie said...

This looks so flavorful.

M said...

I can totally vouch for this recipe. It's very delicious. Plus, it makes a very large pan of food - we had leftovers for about four days afterwards (and we still didn't tire of it!).

Valerie said...

I made this tonight and it is SO good! I love all those veggies. I'll definitely be blogging about your recipe soon!

Nikki Tj Kale and Jace said...

Amazing! It is kinda a lot of work (more than my regular ziti recipe) but it is absolutely worth every second! I loved it! It's my new favorite thing to take to neighbors.

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