ziti with roasted zucchini

Has anyone else noticed that the weather around these parts has gone from seasonally cool to bitter faster than you can say “mid-term elections?”  Just a little over a week ago, I was sporting a light jacket and tights (in addition to other articles of clothing, of course), and then–like a flash–I’m decked out in a long, wool coat and slacks.  It’s not that I don’t like this weather, because I do, but I really could’ve used a nicer segue.  Like, perhaps, a 2 degrees decrease per day for a few weeks, just to ease me into it.

Well, since Mother Nature refused to play nice, I made my own little transition with a dinner that was warm, cheesy, and filling but featured zucchini, a veggie most people associate with summer.  This little beauty came from Bon Appetit–the magazine I’ve quickly learned never features a dud–and makes a great weeknight dinner (if you have a little extra time) and a perfect weekend meal.

Now, I’ve made a bunch of zucchini/pasta dishes in my day, but this one stands out because instead of sautéing the veggies (apparently the “normal” method), you roast them, taking them to a whole new level of awesome that they can’t possible achieve by being cooked in oil in a skillet.  Add these veggies to the pasta and top it all off with some Pecorino Romano shavings, and you have a brilliant dinner that will guide you effortlessly from summer into fall.

Ziti with Roasted Zucchini

Courtesy of Bon Appetit, October 2010

2 lbs medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

12 garlic cloves, peeled, halved

8 large shallots, halved, thinly sliced

7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 1-lb box ziti, cooked, drained, 3/4 cup cooking liquid reserved

1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss zucchini, garlic, shallots, 5 tablespoons oil, and crushed red pepper in bowl.  Spread on 2 large rimmed baking sheets; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast vegetables until tender, turning occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes.

Toss cooked pasta in large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil.  Place pasta in large pot.  Add roasted vegetables, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, and 1 tablespoon oil; stir over medium heat until heated through. Add 3/4 cup basil and cheese.  Toss, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if dry.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer pasta to large platter.  Sprinkle pasta with remaining 1/4 cup basil.

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