Pasta is always a good idea for supper. Not only is it quick, but its also a crowd pleaser.
Nobody understands this as well as Lidia Bastianich.
If youve watched her long-running PBS television shows, Lidias Italy and Lidias Family Table, you know that she produces pasta dishes that are simple, straightforward, easy to prepare and full of authentic flavor.
Her newest book, Lidias Commonsense Italian Cooking, ($35, hardcover, Alfred Knopf), written along with her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, is filled with easy pasta recipes, along with a wealth of salads, soups, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes.
Try out this dish of baked rigatoni and zucchini, which makes good use of end-of-the-season zucchini and any basil left in the garden, too.
PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.
HEAT olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook until it begins to soften, another 5 minutes. Add salt, then crushed tomatoes, slosh the tomato can out with 1 cup water and add it to skillet as well. Bring sauce to a boil, and simmer just until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes, but don’t let the zucchini begin to fall apart. Then toss in chopped basil.
COOK rigatoni until al dente, a few minutes shy of the package directions. Drain pasta, and toss it in the skillet with the tomato sauce and basil.
BUTTER a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss together cheeses. Spread half the pasta and sauce in the baking dish, and top with half the cheese. Layer remaining pasta and sauce, then the remaining cheese.
BAKE, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.Yield: 6 to 8 servings