Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Lotsa Giada Pasta

Wow, it’s been a few weeks since this blog has seen a completely “normal” meal!  But that’s just what this one is—nothing sprouted or soaked, no hemp oil, nothing raw, and real, actual, pasta (not “pasta”).  And extra cheese, please!

[pasta bake photo 2]In the spirit of taking a week off from running (I get back to it today, see below), I figured it would be fun to cook my favorite kind of food, Italian, since I haven’t done that in a while.  I wanted to make a pasta dish with lots of zucchini and squash, since we have a small glut of it in the house.  We picked some up at the farmers market last weekend, and Erin’s garden has (finally) produced some!

[jalapeno plant photo]This has been the strangest summer for the garden; everything seems to have gotten a slow start.  In fact, the two zucchini we just picked are the very first produce this summer!  That is, if you don’t count the baby jalapenos we’ve been eating, their lives cut short by our dog Linus and his penchant for peppers—he ripped the plant out of the ground!  I’m not sure what it is about jalapenos, but he loves them.  We find half-eaten ones in the yard all the time!  Erin has been trying to revive the sad plant, but I don’t see it working out.

Anyway, I found this recipe on the Food Network’s website, from Giada De Laurentiis.  I don’t make much of Giada’s stuff, mainly because she scares me.  Something about her head.  But this one was exactly what I was looking for, so I got over it.

You’ll see that it has tons of vegetables (healthy), and loads of cheese (not healthy).  If I’m making something really special, I don’t worry about how healthy it is, but for weeknight dinners like this, I do what I can to make it better.  So I skipped out on the final part of the recipe, where you’re supposed to top everything with Parmigiano-Reggiano and melted butter.  I’m sure this would have been delicious, but with a cup and a half of different cheeses already in the recipe, it kinda seemed like overkill.  So I just saved some of the other cheeses to sprinkle on top before I put this dish in the oven.  Those other cheeses, by the way, are nothing to shake a stick at—smoked mozzarella and fontina!  Make sure you get smoked mozzarella; it adds such a wonderful flavor.

I used organic whole wheat pasta, and for the marinara sauce, I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have enough.  Luckily I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes in the pantry, so I drained their liquid and cooked them over medium heat with some salt and basil for 20 minutes to make my own!  Much better than the sugary crap you get in the store.

Giada’s Faulty Math

Also, I used twice as many mushrooms as Giada calls for.  She wants four mushrooms, halved.  So eight halves total.  The dish makes eight servings (it says six, but it’s more).  So if we assume that the eight mushrooms are uniformly distributed throughout the pasta bake, then a quick calculation tells us that the chances of some serving have no mushrooms at all are [1-(7/8)(6/8)(5/8)(4/8)(3/8)(2/8)(1/8)] = [1-7!/(8^7)] =99.76%.  Of somebody having no mushrooms!

Oh no, Giada, this will not do.

To take care of the problem, I doubled the amount of mushrooms.  (Strangely, I don’t recall getting a mushroom in mine.  Ah, the limits of science.)

Statistical improbabilities aside, this meal was really good.  I’m going to say 4 cows out of 5, easy.  The best part is that it was pretty cheap—the cheese was the most expensive part—and it was really easy to make, requiring just a little bit of chopping and 40 minutes total baking time.  Plus with eight servings, we’ll be eating this until it’s coming out our ears.

[pasta bake photo]

Return the Road

After a full week off from running, save for one three-mile test of the blister, I’m back at it tonight.  I have a track workout scheduled (6 x 800 meters), and I’m anxious to see how I’ll do.  I had to abort last week’s because of the blister, the one before that I worked out with some friends and did their workout, and three weeks ago I was recovering from a 5K race so I didn’t do the track workout.  So even though I’ve been anything but idle, it’s been four weeks since I’ve legitimately  completed a track workout.  I should be fine, but still it’s a little scary.

I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it goes.  Happy hump day!



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  1. Faulty math or not, Giada’s recipes are almost always winners! This looks delicious. Perfect fuel for tonights run 😉 Hope it goes well
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Larabar Reviews =-.

  2. I had to go and check out this woman, and I see what you mean… It’s not apparent in stills, but in the videos for sure!

    Good luck with the run!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Goodbye and Good Riddance! =-.

  3. That looks good. Giada’s head is really big! That’s what makes her look a little creepy sometimes. haha
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Gnocchi with a browned butter cinnamon sauce with kale =-.

  4. You have the cutest blog title!
    .-= Chocolate Covered Katie´s last blog ..She mails emails by the seashore =-.

  5. OO!! that looks soo yumm and delish
    .-= ann´s last blog ..Pizza Dosa and an Award =-.

  6. I got Greg to double check your lil math section there to make sure you weren’t pulling a fast one…looks good. So does the pasta bake!

  7. Love the probability calculation! I refer to Giada as Grasshopper head! But pretty nonetheless.

  8. Ha, ha! The Giada’s faulty math cracks me up. This meal looks awesome. I like making baked pasta as a standby “real meal”. That is a bummer about the garden as well. I’ve been hearing it from a lot of people due to the cooler temps most of you have been having up there.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Nutty Grain Beer Bread =-.

  9. haha something about Giada’s head made me laugh out loud – i’ve seen that recipe, and it looks amazing!

    i’m glad to hear you’ve taken a week off from running – with moving/business this past week, my schedule has been so off with training, and i keep thinking somehow missing these runs is going to affect my marathon pace. makes me feel better knowing a rest isn’t the worst thing in the world 🙂
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..2009 Gas Station Challenge =-.

  10. Yeah, it’s really not. As much as I hate missing a week of training with only 9 weeks left, I must admit that everything felt really good yesterday. So who knows what injury down the road has been avoided because of it.

  11. I love pasta bakes — they are one of the simplest, yet tastiest recipes I know — and you get a lot of dinners (and sometimes lunches) out of them. I always fear that baking pasta bakes and casseroles makes me too similar to my grandma, but oh well, I guess I didn’t fall that far from the tree.

    Hats of to pasta bakes! 🙂
    .-= Jamie Walker´s last blog ..Recipe: Adzuki Bean Hummus =-.

  12. Haha! I love Giada, but you’re right, her head is inordinately large.
    .-= Amber Shea (Almost Vegan)´s last blog ..Almost vegan in Denver =-.

  13. roasted veggies and pasta, can’t be beat 🙂
    .-= ttfn300´s last blog ..SheROX Danskin NE 2009 =-.

  14. HA! i had to laugh out loud! it’s terrible but my hubby and i call her lollipop head–however, i do think she’s beautiful. kind of resembles natalie portman, but w/o the good proportions… and what kind of recipes asks for just 4 mushrooms anyway?? that math cracked me up!

    anyhow, it does look delicious! i also like to add chickpeas to mine, but i guess that’s not really normal to do…

    • Aw we’re piling on poor Giada…what has she ever done to us? (My dad calls her grasshopper head.)

      The chickpeas are a great idea. I add chickpeas to pasta dishes a lot; they’re especially good for adding some calories and nutrition to vegetarian dishes. And I believe I got the idea from lollipop head herself!

      • You are not alone… she gives me the creeps. She’s like one of those bobble head dolls. Her head is the largest part of her but it’s not helping her with the math problems! lol! I think her staff must run around looking for giant produce too… either that or they use a 3 year old hand model for the close shots!

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