Spaghetti pomodoro & basilico (tomato sauce and basil). Photo by Dr. Conati.
Italian Pasta With Roasted Vegetables & Fresh Herbs
Here is a quick, easy and delicious summer Italian pasta recipe that you just have to make for dinner tonight. Anyone can make this. Your family will feel like they are eating at an authentic Italian restaurant after eating this dish.
But before we get to this recipe, I would like to provide you with a few tips on how to buy the best quality ingredients for this dish.
Tips For Buying Your Vegetables
The key to this dish, or any dish that calls for fresh vegetables, is to educate yourself on how to choose the best ingredients. It can be confusing at the store with all of the different varieties, textures, sizes and shapes that vegetables are available in.
I try to only use organic fruits and vegetables. They may be more expensive, but they are tastier, higher in nutrients, and for the most part, free of any dangerous chemicals.
Roma Tomatoes, photo by Goldlocki.
For this particular dish I use Roma or Plum tomatoes. A Roma tomato is a type of Plum tomato, and to the best of my knowledge, there is no real difference between the two. I like to use Plum or Roma tomatoes for cooking and making sauces. They are more meaty and have less seeds and juice than other varieties. They also taste better in my opinion.
Choose tomatoes that are heavy for their size and have a deep rich color. This deep rich color not only indicates a tastier tomato, but it also is an indication that the tomato has a higher supply of the healthy ingredient “lycopene”.
Smell the tomatoes. They should smell fresh and earthy.
Choose tomatoes that are smooth and free of cuts, blemishes and soft spots.
When choosing your squash , make sure it is firm and heavy for its size.
Examine the skin for any cuts or soft spots. Look at the stem and make certain it is not discolored or shriveled.
Choose squash that is smaller and younger as these are usually more tender.
Am I really going to devote a section of this article to pasta? Can’t you just use any old pasta? Does it really make a difference?
In my opinion, yes, it does make a difference. There are many varieties of pastas on your supermarket shelves, but not all are created equal. I have tried many different brands of pasta and always find myself coming back to Barilla.
It just cooks up perfectly, every time. When I say perfectly, I mean “Al Dente”. When Pasta is cooked “Al Dente”, it should be firm, but not hard. Cooking pasta to this perfect state does require practice. Follow the instructions on the back of the box. They are usually quite accurate. My recommendation would be to taste the pasta a minute or two before the suggested cooking time is reached.Barilla Pasta, Penne, 16 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Here are the ingredients that you will need. These measurements are by no means set in stone. Not everyone has the same preferences. You can easily adjust the ingredients below to suit your taste. Cooking is all about experimentation and I find that many of my recipes evolve over time.
1 Pound of Barilla Pasta – I use penne. I have tried other types of pasta like spaghetti and ziti, but penne seems to have the best texture and holds up the best with the ingredients in this dish.
3 – 4 Yellow Summer Squash Cut Into 1/2 Inch Pieces
3 – 4 Roma or Plum Tomatoes Cut Into 1/2 Inch Pieces
4 Cloves of Garlic Peeled and Smashed
1 – 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme Chopped
1 Cup of Torn Fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup of Fresh Italian Parsley
1/4 Cup Asiago or Parmesan Cheese Plus a bit more for serving
Several Drizzles of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.
Add your vegetables and garlic to a large baking sheet. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir so that vegetables are coated well with the olive oil.
Put the vegetables in the preheated oven and roast , stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned. Make sure they do not burn! It shouldn’t take longer then 30 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta but reserve a cup or so of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot.
Add the roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, cheese, butter, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to the pasta.
If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Toss and serve. Top with cheese if desired.
Ralph Serpe is a passionate home cook and webmaster for http://www.chefability.com. Follow this link for more easy Italian cooking recipes.