Spelt Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Cannellini Beans

It’s hot this week and the kids are back in school. Since they are coming home with more and more homework, my new strategy is to try and have dinner (or most of it) ready by the time they come home.  This is easy in summer, when all you really need is a substantial salad and some form of protein. I made a soba noodle salad with pan fried tofu, lentil salad with chard and my Mexican salad just in the past 4 days. For the odd night I didn’t feel like salad, I roasted some really ripe tomatoes, that were starting to look a little dated, 2 red peppers,  zucchini and yellow squashes and a whole garlic. This turned into a delicious, flavourful sauce, which I mixed with cannellini beans, fresh basil and spelt pasta. Roasting vegetables is not my favorite thing to do in an A/C free kitchen in summertime, but I just love the taste of roasted tomatoes.  A mixture of various heirloom ones would be lovely, but any ripe tomatoes, in season and locally grown are great. If you have more than what’s asked for in this recipe, go for it and roast some more. Add them to your sandwich with fresh goat’s cheese or mozarella. Hmmm, heaven.

In case you’re having the same hesitations about turning the oven on when it’s hot outside, use the grill instead, or simultaneously roast some butternut squash pieces, beetroot or chickpeas for tomorrow’s salad. I stuck in some banana bread and muffins, our all time favourite morning tea.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds (or a little more) ripe, medium size tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 zucchinis, a similar amount of yellow squashes or both
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
  • 1 whole garlic, outer skin removed and tips cut off
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (from 2 cup dried), or 2 tins, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil
  • parmigiano reggioano cheese, optional

Method

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).

Place tomatoes, cut side up, on parchment lined baking sheet next to peppers, skin side up, and whole garlic. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with oil. Bake for 30 minutes on top rack. Turn tomatoes over and add zucchini or squash to the pan in a single layer, also drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt. Return tray to oven for another 20-30 minutes. Watch the peppers! If their skin has blackened and blistered, take them out of the oven and put them in a ziploc bag. Seal and let sit for 20 minutes. This method will make it really easy for the skins to come off. Remove skins and place peppers in large serving bowl. You will mash them with the tomatoes later, but if they’re not soft enough, just cut them into thin strips.

Remove tray from oven and let vegetables cool. Peel off tomato skins and discard some of their seeds, if you like. Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins, they should have the consistency of soft butter. Add tomatoes and garlic to peppers. Mash with a fork, add a generous tablespoon of good olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix in chopped basil leaves, zucchini/squash and beans. This can be done several hours ahead of time. Just leave vegetables in the fridge until your pasta is cooked.

Boil pasta in plenty of salted water. Once it’s done, drain and leave about a cup of pasta water in case you want to thin your sauce.

Mix pasta with vegetables and beans and serve with freshly grated cheese and a glass of Italian red wine for the grown ups.

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