Recipé for roast vegetable pasta

On this page: More a family institution in our house than a recipé; serve this hearty combination of pasta, olive oil, cheese and oven-roast vegetables on its own for a family supper, or with green salad and crusty bread for a special occasion.

Serves four-five hungry people, or more with dainty appetites

Ingredients

500g fresh pasta shapes: fusilli or farfalle are better than conchiglie, which tend to clump together
2 cloves garlic
3 onions
2 red/yellow sweet peppers (a.k.a. capsicums, bell peppers)
6 slim courgettes (a.k.a. zucchini)
100g pack of baby corn (rat's tails!)
100g mange-tout or sugar snap peas
250g proper wet Italian mozzarella - not the dry Danish imitation
50g parmesan or Grana Padano, grated
large handful of fresh basil
45ml olive oil - extra virgin is best.

Method

Put a big roasting pan or ovenproof glass dish in the oven to warm while you prepare the vegetables: slice the onions into vertical wedges, the courgettes into four lengthways and then halves crossways; the peppers into strips. Remove the pan from the oven and put in the oil. Add all the vegetables except the peas; crush the garlic on top and stir well. Return the pan to the oven at gas mark 5-6. Remove every 10 minutes or so to turn over the vegetables so they roast evenly. This might take 30 or 40 minutes, or longer if your oven isn't very hot. (If you are a pyromaniac with an old tin to spare, you can cook the vegetables very satisfactorily and much more quickly over the remains of a bonfire, which gives them a delicious smoky taste.) In a between-stir time, cut the mozzarella into 1cm cubes and grate the parmesan coarsely, and pull the basil leaves into pieces.

When the veggies are looking limp and well-browned, cook the pasta and the peas together in a large pan of slightly-salted water till al dente - usually only for 3-4 minutes, then drain.

Add to the roasting pan with the basil and stir well to mix and coat the pasta with oil. Push the mozzarella cubes into the surface and put back into the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the edges of the pasta, for about 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the parmesan.

Notes

No problems about choosing wine for this - red is perfect. A hearty New World varietal wine (Shiraz, Cabernet, Zinfandel or Malbec) for my money. Good for the heart if not the waistline - vegetables, starch, olive oil and red wine.

Variations: try other combinations of vegetables, for example adding aubergine, butternut squash, baby carrots, red onions or whole shallots, and other herbs like flat-leaf parsley.