Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables

I'm excited to tell you about this week's Meatless Mondays dish, because it was such cheesy, comforting goodness. After finding myself with a healthy supply of zucchini, summer squash, and various cheeses, it seemed only natural that this recipe would pop into my head. After searching briefly through one of my Giada De Laurentiis cookbooks, I found it: Baked Pasta with Roasted Vegetables.

There's really nothing I can hate about this dish. It's pasta, so right there I'm in love. Next, throw in a nice assortment of roasted veggies. Awesome. Then, you mix it all together with some marinara sauce, thawed frozen peas, and, best of all, four different types of cheese. Uh, yum! You pour it all into a big baking dish, then top it with yet another type of cheese, and bake it until the whole thing turns brown and bubbly and melty. Ahhh.

This was wonderful. What else can I really say? If you like baked pasta dishes, I highly recommend throwing in some roasted veggies for a delightfully healthy twist on the old fave. The five types of cheese just make it more interesting and even more delicious. I liked the peas in there, too. It was a nice pop of texture every time you bit down on one. I made it a bit differently than Giada did; it's got less oil in the veggie-roasting part, and I thought it was totally unnecessary to add chunks of butter to the top of the casserole before baking it, like she did. I wrote the recipe as I made it down below.

Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Pasta
makes 8-10 servings

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, 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
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1-2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb blend or herbes de Provence
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
3 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store bought
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup gouda cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Muenster cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Camembert cheese, crumbled or chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a baking sheet (I lined mine with nonstick aluminum foil), toss the bell peppers, zucchini, squash, and onion with the olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, 1/4 tsp. of the pepper, and the herbs. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes; you don't want to cook it fully since it will be cooked later in the oven. Drain.

3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, all the cheeses except the Parmesan, the peas, and the remaining salt and pepper. Gently mix using a wooden spoon until all the pasta is coated with sauce and the ingredients are combined.

4. Pour the pasta into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the top is golden and the cheese melts, about 25 minutes. Allow the pasta to rest for 5 or so minutes before serving.

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