It may not be the prettiest pasta you’ve ever seen (or have the prettiest name) but this virtuous sheet-pan pasta comes together so easily, and I promise you’ll be so proud of how many vegetables you ate. Also the leftovers are amazing.
Ijust love roasted vegetables. I was making a sort of ratatouille for dinner when night when it dawned on me that I could also serve this with pasta. I admit this felt more revolutionary at the time.
Perfect for late in the summer, when the summer veggies are on their way out of season, this is a comforting pasta that reminds you that fall and the holidays are just around the corner.
There is also something very gratifying about making an entire meal on a sheet pan. It keeps you out of the kitchen (great for evenings where you’d rather be on the couch) and it makes cleanup relatively easy. Now, if you don’t have a good sheet pan, that might not be the case. I love this commercial baker’s half-sheet—these are the perfect baking sheets. I also own smaller versions! They make a great set that’s only $30.
While we’re on the topic, I want to just quickly point out a small sheet-pan change that can make a huge difference in the kitchen. It may feel like a good idea to always line it with foil, thinking it will make cleanup even easier. But I’ve actually found that the more you use it without foil (properly oiling your pan, of course) the more nonstick your pan sort of becomes. I stopped using foil a while ago, and not only is easier to clean now than it was before, but (more importantly) the food crisps up better, you get better caramelization, and you lose less of the delicious food that might otherwise stick to the foil.
This dish is incredibly versatile, it’s nutritious, and you can use whatever (and as little or as many) vegetables you have on hand. Whether it’s local, seasonal veggies you scored at a farmer’s market or just the standard produce you picked up at the grocery store, it’s all good. What’s important is you’re making a delicious homemade meal with lots of healthy vegetables. And of course pasta, which is equally important.
I think one crucial thing that has made it easier for me to balance the energy of cooking nearly every night (and the emotional work of planning it all!) is flexible, easy recipes like these that provide me with more time off in the kitchen. Because even though I truly love cooking, I sometimes want to make a meal that I really don’t have to think about—because I still have to think about lots of other things. A question I get a lot is how to commit to cooking at home more. Balance, I think, is one answer.
It’s not that easy to make dinner happen in modern-day America. In fact, a recent poll found that more than half of adults felt that they had fewer meals with their families now than when they were kids—something The Atlantic explores in this really interesting article, “How America Lost Dinner.”
“..there has also been tremendous upheaval in the structures of American life and work. Women—the people traditionally forced into meal management—have voluntarily entered the workforce in droves or been forced into it for financial reasons. Average commute times get longer seemingly every year, ensuring that working adults get home later and later. And almost all middle-class work now involves a great deal of time spent on a computer, which means millions of Americans’ jobs don’t end for the day when they leave the office. For many, their work never really ends at all.”
I can definitely relate. There are times when all I have left in me is to make a simple red sauce with pasta (my go-to for an “I don’t want to do anything” dinner) or call it a day and order a pizza. That’s why you need some back-pocket, fool-proof recipes that you can tackle on a Monday.
This is one of them.
The strategy is this: put vegetables on a sheet pan, roast them for 40 minutes or so, and toss the now-roasted vegetables in a large bowl with a pound of cooked pasta. Add lemon. Add pasta water. That’s it! Did I mention this is vegan yet? It’s also vegan! Or it can be, if you don’t want to add the technically-added one tablespoon of butter or grated parm…stickler.
You just made dinner! Gold star for you.
In terms of which vegetables you use are entirely up to you. I’ve made this so many different ways.
If you’re using different types of vegetables, you want to try and keep the pieces as similar in size as possible.
The pictures in this post depict one of the most abundant variations. In this scenario, I cut up red pepper, green pepper, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Yes, this was quite the crowded sheet pan. When I tossed it all with my al-dente penne, I also added some fresh spinach to the bowl, which quickly wilted.
I’ve made this with two pints of cherry tomatoes and some garlic and/or onion, which was delicious. You could use just one or two types of vegetables, or go vegetable-crazy. You can also play with your pasta choice!! Is there anyone else out there who gets this excited about pasta? Orecchiette would be great with lots of cherry tomatoes, rigatoni perhaps with eggplant for a chunkier version, or penne with any sort of random variety you have going on. See pictures.
Also, like I mentioned wayyy up in the beginning of this rambling post, this makes great leftovers. I dare to say I almost prefer it the next day. I say this quietly, with shame, because I know it is Italian taboo. But you know what, I don’t get a siesta to go home and make myself lunch. I’ll abide by this rule when I’m eating Italian food it Italy. There!
Like I was saying, the vegetable-infused oil sits with the pasta overnight and I really feel like the dish becomes more complex as it sits. This would be great to bring to a party where you want to make something that can be eaten at room temperature.
Okay, you get the point. Make this pasta. Eat your veggies.
Sheet Pan Pasta
- at least 4 cups or so of vegetables, including garlic and/or onion, chopped/sliced in similar sizes
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 lemon
- 1 small bunch of fresh spinach (optional)
- 1 tbs butter
- Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil
- reserved pasta water
- Heat oven to 425° while you prep all the vegetables. Keep in mind to cut them all as similarly in size as possible, and that the larger in size the pieces are, the longer they will take to cook.
- Lay all vegetables on one (or two if you need to) sheet pan. Try to not have any vegetables sitting on top of each other, but if there is a little overlap don’t panic – just keep an eye on them and toss them throughout the roasting process.
- Toss with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, so that every vegetable is coated. You can also add any dried herbs at this point too!
- Roast for 30 minutes (or up to an hour) depending on vegetables and how caramelized you want the vegetables to be, checking every 15 minutes or so and tossing if necessary.
- When vegetables are about 10 minutes or so from being done, cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water.
- When pasta is al dente and vegetables are done, remove 1 cup or so of pasta water and set aside.
- Put the roasted vegetables in a very large bowl, and add the pasta (I use a large spider spoon for this) along with butter, lemon, fresh spinach (if using), and some of the reserved pasta water. For those who need a measurement, start with about 1/2 cup. You may need more if your sauce seems dry.
- Toss for several minutes until pasta is glossy, and a sauce has formed. See note on pasta water below. Be sure to taste along the way and adjust accordingly! More lemon? More pasta water?
- Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.