A quick, easy, and healthy Vegetable Italian pasta packed with summer vegetables like zucchini and eggplant, flavored with fresh Italian herbs, and drizzled in olive oil. The perfect quick-fix, simple dinner you can savor all year long.
When we consider pasta, our mind, of course, travels to Italy. Can there be anything better than Italian pasta? Most of us would say unequivocally, “no.”
The beauty of Italian pasta is in its simplicity.
Cookbook author Fred Plotkin says:
“Americans in Italy, indulging in that first beautiful dish of pasta, may marvel at the magic wrought by Italian cooks. It isn’t really magic, though. It’s an art born of simplicity and balance and the recognition that, as with most things in the kitchen, less is often ever so much better than more.”
With that in mind, let’s take a quick peek at authentic Italian pasta… what it is… and how to make it.
Pasta in Italy
I ran across an article in The New York Times the other day about pasta… and Italy. And the truth… and the call to return to basics. It caught my attention. Because once again, it emphasized simplicity. Which is what we love here at 31Daily.
”I really think it’s time for some pasta therapy,” said Fred Plotkin, who wrote the highly regarded ”Authentic Pasta Book”:
”We Americans need to get back to the basics, the 1-2-3’s of pasta. Just take a box of spaghetti, some canned tomatoes and some good extra virgin olive oil, and you’ll make a dish that’s far superior to that chicly complex thing we aspire to.”
Pro Tips on Cooking Pasta
Mr. Plotkin says there are three immense problems with American pasta, ”We overcook pasta, we serve it in immense portions, and we oversauce it.”
Here are his pro tips:
1. Al Dente
Cook the pasta al dente, which means that it “is tender through and through but that still retains a pleasant, slightly chewy texture.”
2. Test Often
And then test again. He says, “At the precise moment the pasta is ready, it must be drained, sauced and served.”
3. Use More Water
He says a grievous error “is using too little water, a mistake that leads to stewed rather than boiled pasta — and stewed pasta will always be gummy and overcooked. A one-pound box of pasta, or enough for six servings, must cook in at least five quarts of vigorously boiling, salted water, and more is probably better. This is not exactly earth-shattering news, yet it is advice that seems to have almost no power of persuasion. We Americans insist on cramming a pound of spaghetti into a two-and-a-half-quart pot, hoping no one will notice.”
4. A Simple Sauce
“The point of the dish is not the sauce but the pasta. Like butter on bread, the sauce is there simply as a counterpoint.”
5. Too Much Cheese
“If you wish, but Italians use far less grated cheese than many of us think they do. A scant teaspoonful a serving is considered sufficient for most dishes.”
Quick and Healthy Skillet Roasted Vegetable Italian Pasta
A quick fix, healthy Vegetable Italian Pasta packed with summer vegetables like zucchini and eggplant, fresh Italian herbs, and drizzled in olive oil. Easy!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Skillet
- Cuisine: Italian
2 yellow bell peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 medium size zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 to 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onion, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until nicely browned and tender.
Meanwhile, drop the dried pasta into salted boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Add the pasta to the large skillet with vegetables along with the reserved cooking liquid. Toss with the halved grape or cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. If desired, drizzle individual servings with a bit more olive oil and red pepper flakes. Serve hot.
Keywords: Skillet Roasted Italian Vegetable Pasta, Pasta with Vegetables, Vegetarian Pasta, Zucchini and Eggplant Pasta