Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Giada - Baked Penne

To celebrate Giada, Here is her recipe today! I just met her, saw her cute baby bump, and got an autographed cookbook at Crate & Barrel today - she is a doll and very pleasant! Enjoy the recipe :)

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Here's a great way to get all your veggies in, with tons of flavor. I used to make this often when I was a caterer as an alternative option for non-meat eaters because it's an elegant dish with lots of colors and textures. It's also quite convenient, because it can be prepared ahead of time, so if you have vegetarian guests at your next gathering, you can assemble this early and then just pop it in the oven while you're making the rest of the dinner. But don't think this is strictly for vegetarians; it's a real crowd-pleaser all around.

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend or Herbes de Provence
1 pound Barilla penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
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

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the herbs. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

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 it is not completely cooked. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, fontina, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, peas, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining pepper. Gently mix using a wooden spoon until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and butter pieces. Bake until the top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

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