Lidia’s Baked Rigatoni and Zucchini

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Zucchini, tomatoes and basil tossed with rigatoni–this pasta dish makes excellent use of later summer produce. I have made this pasta  a few times over the past several weeks and have come to prefer it without the cheese (or with less cheese) and with less pasta in relation to the vegetables. Don’t leave out the fresh basil–that is key to the flavor. If you want to replace the fontina with another cheese, you can.

 

Baked Rigatoni and Zucchini
Adapted from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking,” by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali. (see also Family Circle Magazine October 2013) My family likes this better without the cheese or with less cheese. I like better it with less pasta in relation to the vegetables (or more vegetables in relation to the pasta). The original recipe calls for adding 1 cup water to the sauce, which I leave out.

In a large skillet, saute the onion in oil until it softens, about 5 minutes:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced

Add the zucchini to the skillet and saute it until it softens, about 5 minutes:
1 lb. zucchini, sliced (about 2 medium zucchini)

Add and simmer until the sauce thickens, about ten minutes:
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

Add:
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

While the preparing the sauce, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta al dente:
1 pound rigatoni (I like this better with about half the pasta)

Toss the drained pasta with the sauce. You can serve as is, or you can follow the original directions to layer the pasta with cheese in a 9″x13″ buttered baking dish (half pasta, half cheese, rest of pasta, rest of cheese):
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces shredded Fontina cheese (can use less cheese, especially if using less pasta)
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (can use less cheese, especially if using less pasta)

Bake the pasta at 400 degrees until browned on top and heated through, about 20 minutes.

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2 Responses to “Lidia’s Baked Rigatoni and Zucchini”

  1. Mrs. S. Says:

    Sounds delicious. I think I would also prefer it without the cheese.

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