Meatless Monday: Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables
So you don't eat meat on Mondays. Or maybe you don't eat meat ever. But tell the truth on this one -- does eating less meat mean you eat more vegetables? Or do you subscribe to the pizza-and-beer-are-vegetarian philosophy? They are meatless after all, but mom was right about vegetables. You need to eat more of them.
Eating more vegetables shouldn't be too hard; eat a salad with dinner, snack on crudite, or ask for a side of broccoli instead of fries. But eating more vegetables doesn't mean that you now have to snack like a rabbit. You can easily add vegetables to the food you like anyway -- pizza, lasagna, sandwiches -- so you get a filling, comforting meal, plus all the good stuff that comes from vegetables, like vitamins and fiber and all that.
Giada's Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables is a very veg-ified version of baked ziti; even mom would be impressed with the amount of vegetables loaded into this casserole. But the vegetables add more than just nutrients; the onions, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms are oven-roasted so they develop a deep flavor. And instead of plain old mozzarella, Giada uses a sharp-smoky combination of fontina and smoked mozzarella, which pairs unbelievably well with the roasted vegetables.
To save time you can use store-bought tomato sauce to make this dish. You can also make it a day ahead and bake it when you're ready for a meatless, veggie-loaded meal.
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.
Don't stop with baked penne. Try 20 more full-of-vegetables vegetarian pasta recipes.