Pasta shells with mushroom and zucchini, two ways

This recipe makes two quite different dishes at the same time, taking advantage of the different textures of roasted zucchini. The first dish makes use of the softer seeded portion in a comforting creamy alfredo you can eat right away; the second uses the firmer green outsides in a bright pasta salad that makes a good next-day lunch.

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Prepare two baking trays by lining with foil and misting quite generously with cooking spray.
2. Cut a large zucchini (or two small ones) into cubes, separating the firmer outer portions from the soft seeded middle. Put into the two separate trays (use your larger tray for the firmer cubes so they won’t steam; the seeded cubes can go in a more crowded pan as you’ll be wanting them soft anyway).
3. Cut up a punnet of mushrooms (I used large baby bellas but any brown mushrooms will be lovely) into slightly larger cubes. Add them to each tray, making sure the cut sides of the mushrooms are in contact with the foil for optimum caramelisation.
4. Season quite generously with salt and garlic powder. (Or use several real garlic cloves in each tray; it may be worth popping the garlic in the oven earlier while it’s pre-heating if you do this, to make sure they get soft enough.) Also add lots of black pepper to the tray with the seeded zucchini.
5. Bake for 15-18 mins.

6. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to package instructions, again salting the water quite generously. When done, drain into a collander.
7. Transfer about half of the pasta to your serving bowl for your first dish. While the pasta is still hot, mix in grated parmesan (and/or cream cheese, or cream and butter, or just warm up some alfredo sauce from a jar if that’s what you’ve got) and toss until nice and melty.
8. When the roasting is done, mix the veggies from the seeded tray into your alfredo. The zucchini and the garlic should both be soft enough that they melt into the sauce.
9. Mix the veggies from the second tray with the remaining pasta, and set aside to cool. (Then go eat the first dish while it’s still warm!) Later, add whatever you’d like to the pasta salad to jazz it up — I suggest crumbled goat’s cheese; toasted pine nuts; chopped sun-dried tomatoes; or more finely grated parm with Italian herbs.


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