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Baked Pasta Primavera

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.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 3/4-inch matchsticks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup small cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 lb. gemelli pasta, cooked according to the package instructions
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 Tbs. cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and two-thirds of the garlic and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the yellow squash, zucchini and carrot, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cherry 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 over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining garlic and the lemon zest and sauté 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 to 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano 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 baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano 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 immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).