This pasta isn't baked, technically, but it has the spirit and character of a baked dish.
The recipe calls for pancetta, an Italian cured -- but not smoked -- bacon that is now available pre-sliced and packaged in the deli or meat section of most supermarkets. Its sweet and salty flavor adds depth to sauces and stir-fries.
No additional salt is needed in this dish. Serve with a simple green salad.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 pound dried penne
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 medium (4 ounces) onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 small (8 ounces) zucchini, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound tomatoes, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Lightly oil a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta until it releases its fat and looks translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and the zucchini and cook for 4 to 6 minutes more, stirring occasionally, then add the tomatoes and pepper to taste. Cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, continuing to stir, then remove from the heat and keep warm if the pasta isn't quite done.
Preheat the broiler to high.
Add the pancetta-zucchini mixture to the bowl of pasta, then add the ricotta cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine thoroughly, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Adapted from former Food section recipe editor Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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