Roasted Vegetables Baked Penne

I had lots of tomato sauce and a few packs of pasta at home that I wanted to use up, and I came across Giada DeLaurentiis’ Roasted Vegetable Baked Penne. I have never been one for going out to buy ingredients that weren’t already in my fridge or in my pantry unless it is a key ingredient, or if using a substitute would change the end product dramatically.  This recipe called for summer squash – and seeing as we haven’t even entered Spring yet, I decided to substitute it with another “soft” vegetable – eggplant.  If tomato sauce and eggplant coupled with Parmesan cheese can make a mean sandwich, I figure that it could make a mean pasta as well.

This recipe called for a few different types of cheese, namely Fontina, Smoked Mozzarella and Parmesan.  While the cheeses added moisture and gooey goodness to the dish, I would probably just use substitutes next time as they all sort of got lost in the mix in terms of flavour and seeing as these cheese are quite expensive and not so common – I wouldn’t hesitate to use substitutes next time.  They really got lost in the grand scheme of things.  But I suppose that with so many vegetables and ingredients going on, its kind of hard to taste each ingredient and flavour individually.  I also added ground beef to this pasta bake as my family loves their meat!

I really liked this dish, and I think its a great way to get picky children to eat vegetables because its so yummy!  Although this recipe is supposed to serve 6, I think it could probably serve about 8 people if you have a full 3-course meal as it is quite filling (at least for me!)  Roasted Vegetables Baked Penne

Makes approximately 6 servings

2             Zucchinis, diced
2             Chinese Eggplants, diced
2             Red Bell Peppers, sliced into thin strips
1C           Fontina Cheese, grated
1/2C       Smoked Mozzarella, grated
1/4C      Parmesan, grated + 1/3 cup for topping
3C          Tomato Sauce of your choice (I used Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with Herbs & Garlic)
1             Yellow Onion, sliced
1/4C      Olive Oil
1 tsp      Salt, divided
1 tsp      Black Pepper, ground
1 tsp      Italian Seasoning
1 lb.       Penne
1-1/2C  Corn or Peas, frozen, or fresh
2T         Butter, cut into small pieces
1 lb.      Medium Ground Beef, cooked with salt and thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. 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.

  3. While veggies are roasting, heat skillet to medium-high heat, add olive oil and brown ground beef with salt and thyme.  Set aside.
  4. Next, 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.

  5. In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the ground beef, 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.

  6. 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.