Baked Penne with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives

Fresh out of the oven!

The week of zucchini goodness continues! I found this recipe using zucchini, chickpeas AND olives on the Vegetarian Times website! What a great find! Three things that I adore in one recipe. Oh glorious and beautiful Saturday evening in which I can consume this lovely dinner! And what glorious meals of leftovers shall await me in the next couple of days! One of the things I thought was terribly interesting about this recipe is the fact that there are no onions required. I always find it strange when onions are not involved in a recipe because I rarely cook anything that doesn’t ask for some type of onion. I also did a bit of research today. I had to open a new can of tomato paste for this recipe. Usually when I have to open a can of tomato paste I make sure that I use it within 2 days or toss it. It gets pretty disgusting pretty quickly. I found myself wondering if there was a better way to keep it stored for a longer period of time. I did a little internet research and multiple sources said that freezing tomato paste in a plastic container actually preserves its taste better than shoving it in the normal part of the fridge and that it actually lasts longer (no surprise there, really). Tomorrow I’ll go on the hunt for a small plastic container in which to deposit my leftover tomato paste from now on. I’m glad I took a few minutes to research rather than just attempting to use it up quickly.

Baked Penne with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives
8 oz. penne pasta
1/2 lb. zucchini, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, juices included
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 11- x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Cook penne according to package directions for al dente in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Return penne to pot, and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, combine zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes and juices, tomato purée, 2 Tbs. olives, oil, tomato paste, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir zucchini mixture into penne, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
5. Transfer penne mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 Tbs. olives.
6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Baked Penne with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives

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