This recipe is a great way to get all your veggies in with tons of flavor. It's a great alternative entrée 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.
Technique tip: Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, make sure the pasta is not completely cooked when you first cook it in the boiling water. 6 minutes should be sufficient.
Swap option: You can swap in any of your favorite veggies here. The more the merrier.
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 zucchinis, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend or herbes de Provence
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup grated fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 1½ cups frozen peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
3. On a baking sheet, toss the cut bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onion with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and the herbs.
4. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.
5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander.
6. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, fontina, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the peas and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix using a wooden spoon until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
7. Pour the pasta into a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and the butter pieces.
8. Bake until the top is golden and the cheese melts, about 25 minutes.