I had some broccoli and red bell pepper that needed using up and since we have been cooking a lot of Italian dishes out of Lidia’s Cookbook, I had inspiration to throw this dish together.
Some people like a very creamy casserole, some like it less creamy, I’m one of those. Growing up I had lots and lots of very creamy, almost soupy elbow macaroni and spaghetti casseroles. It seems like American cooks didn’t know about other kinds of pasta!
As an adult, I’ve been adventurous in my pasta, and now I am venturing into making my own from scratch. Woo-Hoo!
Baked Penne and Veggies
Preheat oven to 400
Equipment: 12″ skillet, 2 quart saucepan, 8″ X 8″ square pyrex pan
1/2 C fontina shredded
1/2 C Grana Padano grated
3 tablespoons butter, soft
1 T grapeseed oil
kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 pound sliced crimini mushrooms
1 C broccoli chopped
1/2 C red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 C dry white wine
3/4 C half and half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound penne
1/4 C fresh basil, chiffoniered
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Prep the cheese by fine grating the Grana Padano in a bowl. Shred the fontina using a box grater on the wide shred. Mix 1/2 the Grana Padano and all the fontina together. Reserve the mix and the 1/4 C Grana Padano separately.
Butter the pyrex dish and set aside. Chop and clean the broccoli and red bell pepper and prep the basil and parsley and reserve.
Boil salted water in a large saucepan and drop in the penne and cook until a little less than al dente, drain and reserve the penne and the pasta water until needed.
While cooking the pasta, cook the veggies in the skillet. Heat a tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a skillet and add 1 T butter, saute the broccoli and red bell peppers until crisp tender. Add mushrooms, a little salt, and cook until the mushrooms release some water and start to bubble. Cook until the skillet is beginning to dry and add the wine, continue cooking down. Add 1/4 C pasta water and cook down. Add the 1/2 & 1/2 and 1 T butter and cook slowly until thickened. Add freshly cracked black pepper to taste and more salt, if needed. Pour in the penne, basil and parsley and toss well. Add more pasta water, 1/2 & 1/2 or butter if needed*. Add the 1/4 C Grana Padano and toss well. Pour into the pyrex dish and smooth the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.
*This dish is less creamy than most. I like it that way. If you need it to be more creamy, do so, add more pasta water, 1/2 & 1/2 or butter in the skillet and cook a little to thicken before pouring in the pyrex dish.