If you’re like me, the garden is bursting and the local farmer’s market is a flash with irresistibly bright colours. When I returned home from the market this morning I realized my biggest challenge of the day might be shutting my refrigerator door if I didn’t get to work, so I started dinner early.
My grocery bags were overflowing with this time of year’s typical finds; zucchini, field tomatoes and bell peppers so I didn’t have too much trouble figuring that each of these would find their way onto my plate later on. Looking to avoid a big mess of dinner, I remembered I had some of my favourite conchilioni pasta in the pantry. Typically known as “jumbo shells”, they are great for stuffing and baking, so my job of coming up with something to create for dinner was pretty much already taken care of for me.
With a whole lot of vegetables and a little bit of sautéing, I had a fairly quick, simple and elegant dinner for four.
1/2 Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Zucchini, finely diced
6 -7 White Mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons Dry Vermouth, optional
1 Roasted Red Pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 Field Tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 Breadcrumbs, optional
1 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 Tablespoons Oregano
2 Tablespoons Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
450g Conchilioni Pasta (about 12-15 large shells)
In a large sauté pan heat the oil and add the onion.
Once the onion begins to soften, add the garlic and finely diced zucchini over a medium heat; cooking for about 2 minutes.
Return the heat to a medium high and add the mushrooms.
Once most of the liquid is out of the mushrooms and the zucchini has softened and browned, add the vermouth, if using and sauté for another minute or two.
Add the chopped red pepper and the tomato, cooking down any remaining liquid.
Finish by adding the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Cool slightly and add the breadcrumbs if the mixture still appears to hold a lot of liquid. (Moisture is good, pooling of juice is not so much.) This step is optional and shouldn’t be necessary.
Cook the pasta as to the package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain and cool slightly.
Line a oven proof pan with a basic tomato sauce.
Stuff a generous tablespoon full of the stuffing mixture into the shells to fill and place in the prepared pan, in a single layer.
Cover finished pasta with foil and bake at 350º for 25 minutes.
Serve with another drizzling of sauce and a sprinkle of parmigiana, if desired.