Thursday, July 26, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Pasticcio

This post commemorates my first time participating in a food blog event!! Most exciting. The event is called Presto Pasta Nights. Every Friday the host (Ruth at Once Upon A Feast) posts up all the pasta photos that have been sent to her during the week.

This pasta is similar to the Linguine with Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Vegetables I made not too long ago (and is actually on the opposite page from it in the cookbook). Similar in the sense that they both have roasted vegetables, pasta, and no real sauce (and are both from the never disappointing Rebar cookbook). I think it's a nice simple dish, good for a summer meal. It's an easy one to half or double, whatever you need. You can use whatever veggies or cheese you have on hand. As the preamble to the recipe says, this is the kind of recipe where you just add a bunch of pasta, cheese and herbs together then bake it with a nice crust. While I did enjoy this pasta dish, for me it needs more flavour since there's no sauce. Next time I might add more lemon zest (and maybe lemon juice), more herbs, more garlic, and use a cheese with a stronger flavour (it calls for mozzarella and feta, so I might try feta with aged white cheddar).

Also, I'm going to tell you something that will most likely make me look very stupid. Try not to be too shocked. I never knew why you're supposed to add salt to water when you're boiling pasta. It was just what my mom did, so I did it too. I'd heard of people adding oil (apparently so the pasta won't stick together), and maybe I thought salt did the same thing. I don't think I thought too much about it actually. Anyway, I was watching Michael Smith on Chef at Home and he finally made it all clear and blaringly obvious to me: you salt pasta water so that you season the pasta.

Roasted Vegetable Pasticcio
(Adapted from the Rebar cookbook)

Serves 6-8

20 oz (600 g) dry rigatoni pasta
1 medium red onion
1 medium sweet potato
2 yellow or red peppers
2 small zucchini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp chopped oregano, basil or mint
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp capers (optional)
3 cups grated mozzarella
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1. Cook pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Chop red onion, sweet potato and peppers into 1/2" square pieces. Cut zucchini into 1/2" thick half-moon slices. In a large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Spread them out on two lightly oiled baking trays and roast until vegetables are soft and golden (about 15 minutes). Remove the vegetables and reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

3. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, lemon zest, capers, 2 cups mozzarella, feta cheese and all but 2 tbsp of the chopped herbs. Spoon the entire mixture into a 9"x13" glass baking dish.

4. Make the topping by combining fresh breadcrumbs with the remaining cup of grated cheese, reserved chopped herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and spread over the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350F until bubbly and golden on top (40 minutes).

*Original recipe calls for eggplant, but I just am not willing to try and like eggplant right now so I always use sweet potato instead.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That dish looks delicious! I love paticcio and your version seems really wonderful...

Ruth Daniels said...

Great post and I'm so glad you chose to share it with Presto Pasta Nights.

Like you - I can never have too much flavor - more garlic and more lemon sounds just right.

Check back for the roundup tomorrow.

Patricia Scarpin said...

There's nothing stupid here!

I used to add oil to the boiling water, but then I read somewhere that it makes no difference - and it's true! I add just salt now.

This dish looks delicious! I think that one kind of mozzarella we have here in Brazil would be wonderful in this dish (it's yellow).

Valli said...

Love both of these pasta dishes from the Rebar Cookbook. I have never been to the restaurant in Victoria. Have you?

eatme_delicious said...

rosa: Thanks! :)

ruth: Thanks, I'm really excited to be part of Presto Pasta Nights and will definitely do it again.

patricia: I can't think of what mozzarella you might be referring to. Smoked mozzarella would be good in it too I think.

valli: I have been to the restaurant, yes. That's where I originally found out about the cookbook! I've only been a couple of times though.

doolaik said...

also, salt changes the boiling point of the water, so it'll boil faster. =D

eatme_delicious said...

doolaik: True but it seems to only last for less than 30 seconds, or rather speed up boiling by that much? I'm not sure though.

Niki said...

Yup. I also thought salt in pasta water meant that the pasta wouldn't stick as much. whoooopsies. Now I know, too!!

eatme_delicious said...

niki: Glad I could help. :)