Vegetables roasted just long enough to enhance their sweetness yet remain crisp-tender are the start of this show. Portions are generous, and leftovers the next day taste good cold or at room temperature.
*Start with prepped vegetables from the salad bar, and this will take 30 minutes to prepare.
Serve with Parmesan crisps or garlic bread.
- 1/2 large eggplant (about 8 ounces)
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium red onion
- 4 ounces green beans (may substitute asparagus)
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- 1 small red Thai chile pepper (optional)
- 1 head broccoli (about 10 ounces)
- Leaves from 1 large sprig thyme
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces dried penne, preferably the smaller-size version
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (may substitute sliced skin-on almonds), for garnish
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, prep the following vegetables, placing them on a large rimmed baking sheet as you work: Trim away the eggplant peel, then cut the flesh into bite-size batons. Stem and seed the bell pepper, then cut into bite-size pieces or batons. Trim off the ends of the zucchini, then cut the vegetable in half lengthwise; cut the halves into bite-size pieces. Cut the onion in half, then cut each half into 6 pieces. Trim the green beans, then cut into 2-inch lengths. Crush the garlic, giving it a good whack with the flat side of a knife. Stem and seed the red chili pepper, if using, then cut crosswise into thin slices.
Break the broccoli into bite-size florets and place them in a quart-size resealable plastic food storage bag.
Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the vegetables on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 5 tablespoons of the oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat evenly, then roast for 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are in the oven, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain in a colander, then place in a wide, shallow serving bowl.
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the broccoli in the plastic bag; season with salt and pepper to taste, then seal and shake to coat evenly. Add the broccoli to the other vegetables and roast for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
While the broccoli is in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Do not turn away, as the pine nuts can burn easily.
Transfer the roasted vegetables to the bowl of pasta and toss to incorporate, breaking up the garlic (or removing it, if desired). Scatter the toasted pine nuts on top, along with the cheese. Serve family-style at the table.
Adapted from "Cook Italy," by Katie Caldesi (Kyle, June 2010).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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