Burnt cheese is what I love most about baked pasta dishes. The crisp little bits that tuck themselves into the corners and tips of pasta, giving crunch to an otherwise soft and chewy dish are the stuff heaven’s made of.
Unfortunately for me, we don’t have much of that around these parts. But, panko is not a bad substitute. It gives a more subtle crunch, but a crunch nonetheless, good enough to calm burnt cheese cravings.
Now I understand in the lower half of this country it’s been hot? Is that true? Well, to all of you—forget this recipe. This one is for the Canada-bordering states where we have barely seen 80 degrees, oh, and San Francisco too, where you never see 80 degrees in the summer months. Crank up your ovens and make this bubbly baked pasta dish on those cold summer nights.Print
Baked Penne with Zucchini and Kalamata Olives Recipe
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- 1 pound dried penne pasta
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup panko
- Heat oven to 350°F, oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook according to package instructions, drain and rinse under cold water. Return to pasta pot and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and season with salt and black pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, then add garlic and zucchini. Season again with salt and pepper and continue cooking until vegetables are tender and just starting to brown. Add tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Stir in olives and parsley and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Combine panko and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl. Pour tomato sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Transfer pasta to baking dish and top with panko. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and bread crumbs start to brown.