This is the perfect time of year for me, when I can still find delicious late summer veggies, like eggplant, zucchini, and peppers at my local farmer’s market, but the weather is beginning to turn chilly enough that I crave warm comfort foods. This recipe marries the two and even better than that, this is a one pan wonder. One pan. That’s right, you read correctly. Even the pasta cooks in the same skillet, which means no boiling water, draining or extra pots and pans to wash. I present to you my One Skillet Baked Pasta and Veggies.
Not only does this recipe all come together in just one pan, but it is also super versatile to suit your own tastes, moods, diet or what’s available in your market or kitchen today.
Growing up, one of my favorite dishes was a big pot of stewed zucchini and tomatoes first made for me by my Italian Nana and then continued to be cooked by my non Italian mother, and now by me. This recipe from my childhood is what inspired me to come up with this new variation, especially since my daughter started asking for me to cook with more zucchini. I decided to pair zucchini with eggplant and peppers, threw in a handful of little tomatoes and voila, a new variation was created. I further decided to see if I could successfully cook the pasta in the same pan, thus cutting down on my usual stack of dirty pots and pans. Eureka, it worked! The tomato sauce and a bit of extra water provide just the right measure of liquid to cook the pasta and still create a nice sauce with the veggies. You can also easily vary the vegetables depending upon what you like and what’s available to you. Don’t like zucchini? Add more eggplant, Don’t have any tomatoes on hand? Leave ‘em out. If you want to make this vegan/dairy free, just leave out the cheeses, and the finished dish will still be perfectly delicious! If you’re avoiding gluten, swap out the pasta for some rice. I’ve also added in a drained can of chickpeas, which is perfect especially if you want to leave out the pasta or cheese to make the dish that much more substantial. Any way you make it, it’s going to be delicious. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family does!
One Pan Skillet Baked Pasta & Veggies
Author: Jen Jones of SweetGreenKitchen.com
1-2 cloves garlic
1 large eggplant or 2 medium Japanese eggplants
1-2 medium zucchini
1 red pepper
Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounce can tomato puree
Italian seasoning dried herbs
Salt to taste
8 ounces fresh mozzarella – diced – skip the cheese to keep it vegan/dairy free
Grated Romano cheese – to taste – skip to keep vegan/dairy free
Small handful of fresh parsley or basil
1 pound uncooked pasta – penne, twist, or other shape (use gluten free if you prefer)
Optional: 15 ounce can chick peas – drained and rinsed
Red pepper flakes
Equipment: Large oven proof skillet – I use a 14” diameter and 2” deep All Clad pan
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a large, deep, oven proof skillet, drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil and add in 1-2 peeled cloves of garlic. Turn the heat on to medium-low and gently cook, to create garlic infused olive oil. Do not let the garlic brown or simmer.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper into bite size pieces. Add the cut veggies and tomatoes to the pan with the oil and garlic. At this point, you can remove the garlic from the pan or leave it in if you like a stronger garlic flavor. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional). Raise the temperature to medium-high. Saute about 5-8 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and get a little color.
Once the vegetables have started to soften, pour in the tomato puree and then fill the same can with water and pour in 1 ½ cans of water to the pan. It will seem very liquidy at this point, but don’t fear, the water will cook down and the sauce will thicken. Sprinkle in about a tablespoon of dried Italian seasoning.
Stir the sauce and veggies for a few minutes. Next, add in the uncooked pasta. Add in the chickpeas if using. Stir the pasta completely into the sauce and vegetables. Cook on medium-high heat about 8-10 minutes. The sauce should come to a low bubble. If it begins to bubble and splatter, lower the heat a bit.
After about 8-10 minutes, turn off the stove top. Stir in 8 ounces of diced mozzarella. Sprinkle in about ¼ cup of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese – more or less to taste. Leave out the cheese to make this vegan/dairy free, but you may want to season with a little more salt.
Now move the pan to the preheated 400 F oven and bake uncovered about 15-25 minutes until the cheese is melted. In 15 minutes, the cheese should be nice and melted, at 25 minutes the cheese will be melted, bubbly and browned a bit on top. Cook to your preference.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on some chopped fresh parsley or basil. Serve and enjoy!