Colorful zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes nestle in this creamy pasta. Lemon zest brightens the dish, and fresh bread crumbs on top add a delightful crunch. Cut all the vegetables to about the same size to ensure that they cook evenly. Substitute other seasonal vegetables to make this recipe year-round.
Baked Pasta Primavera
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm.) pieces
2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm.) pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm.) matchsticks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup (6 oz./185 g.) small cherry tomatoes
3/4 lb. (375 g.) gemelli pasta, cooked according to the package directions
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) milk
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. cream cheese
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup (2 oz./60 g.) fresh bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Oil a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm.) baking dish.
In a large frying pan, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and two-thirds of the garlic and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the squash, zucchini and carrot, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook just until they start to soften but still hold their shape, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the cooked pasta.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and the lemon zest and saute just until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 4-5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g.) of the Parmesan and the cream cheese and whisk until the cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the cream sauce into the bowl with the pasta and the vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and the bread crumbs.
Bake until the pasta is warmed through and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Spoon onto plates and serve. Serves 6.
Find more simple one-dish dinners in our cookbook One Pot of the Day by Kate McMillan.