Entrée, Summer

ROASTED ZUCCHINI PASTA BAKE

My bounty of summer zucchini has regrettably not been very exciting lately. I have been grilling it or grating it into the kids morning muffins, neither of which has been particularly tasty. I do like zucchini noodles and I've been picking up those pre-zoodled ones from Target to saute with the pesto I always have on hands along with tomatoes and white beans and dinner in done in 10 minutes. So how else can we jazz it up? Amidst pasta and cheese of course! If you have other zucchini recipes you love, please point me towards them in the comments. I told you I would try to get more easy weeknight dinner options going on here and this one is not to be overlooked. 

ROASTED ZUCCHINI PASTA BAKE // Serves 4

If you are making this in advance, follow the directions all the way through the last baking step. It can probably sit overnight at the most, and then be baked the following day. To reheat, warm it, covered, at 350' for about 20 minutes. 
If you do eat meat and want to add sausage of some sort, crumble and cook it, and add it in when you are mixing everything together before baking. My guess is about 3 links would be plenty and would not change other amounts drastically. You can use gluten free pasta shells if you'd like but I have nothing to offer those of you who will ask if this can be dairy free ;)

2 lbs. zucchini (about 4 medium)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for pasta water
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
zest of one small lemon
1/2 lb. large pasta shells
8 ounces/ 1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 lb. grated goat cheddar, divided
fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400'. 
Cut the squash into 1/4" coins. If there is a thicker end or seedy part of the squash, scoop the seeds out with a spoon, halve and slice those parts. Pile the zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, dried herbs, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the baking sheet. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until you get a few browned edges. Remove to cool completely.
While the squash bakes, cook the pasta in well salted water until al dente, or following package instructions. Drain and return to the pot. Let it cool to the touch, and then add the creme fraiche, half of the grated cheddar, a handful of chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper and the fresh grated nutmeg. Stir everything to mix well. Add the zucchini and give it one more stir. 
Butter a baking dish and transfer the pasta mixture into it. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheddar, parmesan and another few generous pinches of parsley over the top. Pop the dish in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to set before serving. 



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