I hosted a party last weekend and needed an impressive vegetarian pasta dish to feed a large group. Yes, I have officially fallen off the low-carb wagon. There’s always hope for tomorrow…
For inspiration, I sifted through recipes on FoodNetwork.com and I found two great pasta dishes from Giada De Laurentiis. I wanted to make the pasta the day before, or at least get it prepped as much as possible to prevent my kitchen from becoming a distaster zone right before guests arrived. I really liked the fresh and healthy appeal of Giada’s Pasta Primavera, but upon more research, I found an even more delicious looking Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, also from Giada.
I was able to make the Pasta Primavera the night before the party, so hubby and I could try out the healthy version for dinner. It looked like it might be a great weeknight go-to meal for the future. The two recipes are very similar, and the plan was to build onto the primavera for a final outcome of the baked penne for the party the next day. This couldn’t have worked out better!
The Pasta Primavera was delicious and light; below is Giada’s recipe. I didn’t include the cherry tomatoes this time. Since my plan was to bake it the next day, I didn’t want it to get too watery with tomato seeds sitting overnight. I also totally forgot to add the onion, which is funny because I bought 2 of them in preparation for the pasta-filled weekend.
Pasta Primavera:3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450°. On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.
The Even More Delicious Version:
Giada’s Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables starts with almost the identical recipe above, with the addition of marinara, fontina cheese, smoked mozzarella, and finishing it off in the oven. The Complete Recipe has a few additional ingredients, but for simplicity, I omitted those items. Below is my adapted version.
Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables:fully prepared Pasta Primavera recipe 3 cups marinara sauce 1 cup grated fontina cheese 1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella 1/3 cup grated parmesan for topping 2 tbsp. butter cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 450°. Carefully mix the marinara sauce, fontina cheese, smoked mozzarella into the prepared pasta primavera. Pour the pasta into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Top with small pieces of butter and parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes.