March 31, 2010

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Last Friday, March 26th, was my parents's 27th wedding anniversary. My dad wanted to celebrate it at his trusted Blue Mango Thai restaurant, but I had other idea. Being a vegetarian, it's difficult to find a good restaurant. And since we almost never go out to eat, I don't even know any restaurant that I would want to go. I suggested that I would cook instead. I saw this recipe while watching Giada's Everyday Italian last December with my grandma and have been wanting to test it since.

This recipe calls for fontina cheese, which I have never had before. Fortunately Whole Foods's incredible cheese section has every kind of cheese imaginable. There are apparently two types of fontina, a Danish one and an Italian one, and you need the Italian one--fontina d'aosta. I modified this recipe a little to suit my own flavors. I omitted the peas and the onions because I didn't have any peas on hand, and I really don't like cooked unions. I also added 1/2 cup more of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the top layer formed a wonderfully delicious cheese crust. My mom took the leftover for lunch today and asked me to grate her some more cheese on top! Overall I am very happy with this recipe, as I do with almost all of Giada's recipes!

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

(from Giada)

  • 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 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
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
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. 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, 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. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

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