Gratin of Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables

This recipe is a good choice for a supper dish with no meat. Oven-roasted vegetables have a magical, toasted, concentrated flavour, and they keep all their dazzling colours intact. Vegetarians may like to know there is a Parmesan 'style' cheese available from Bookhams, and strict vegetarians, exclude the anchovies.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One

Gratin of Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables
 6 oz (175 g) rigatoni
 1 heaped tablespoon grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano, see recipe intro), for the topping
For the roasted vegetables:
 1 small aubergine
 1 lb (450 g) tomatoes, skinned
 2 medium courgettes
 1 medium onion, peeled
 1 small red pepper, deseeded
 1 small yellow pepper, deseeded
 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
 2 oz (50 g) pitted black olives, chopped
 4 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
 1 heaped tablespoon salted capers or capers in vinegar, rinsed and drained
 2 oz (50 g) Mozzarella, grated
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
 1 pint (570 ml) milk
 1½ oz (40 g) plain flour
 1½ oz (40 g) butter
 pinch of cayenne pepper
 2 oz (50 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), finely grated
 a little freshly grated nutmeg
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
You will also need an ovenproof baking dish measuring 10 x 8 x 2 inches (25.5 x 20 x 5 cm), and a baking tray measuring 16 x 11 inches (40 x 28 cm).


Start off by preparing the courgettes and aubergine an hour ahead of time: chop them into 1½ inch (4 cm) chunks, leaving the skins on, and layer them in a colander with a sprinkling of salt between each layer.

Then put a plate on top and weight it down with something heavy, which will draw out any excess moisture from the vegetables.

After an hour, squeeze then dry them in a clean tea cloth, then pre-heat the oven to its highest setting.

Now quarter the tomatoes and chop the onion and peppers into 1½ inch (4 cm) chunks.

Next, arrange all the vegetables on the baking tray and sprinkle with the olive oil and chopped garlic.

Give everything a good mix to coat all the pieces with the oil, then spread them out as much as possible.

Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then roast on a high shelf in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until browned and charred at the edges.

Now make the cheese sauce – place the milk, flour, butter and cayenne pepper into a medium saucepan and place it over a gentle heat. Then, using a balloon whisk, begin to whisk while bringing it to a gentle simmer.

Whisk continually until you have a smooth glossy sauce, and simmer very gently for 5 minutes.

Then add the cheese and whisk again, allowing it to melt. Then season with salt, freshly milled black pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Meanwhile, put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.  About 5 minutes before the vegetables are ready, cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for exactly 6 minutes – no longer.

Drain the pasta in a colander, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and combine it with the roasted vegetables, olives, anchovies, capers and cheese sauce.

At this point turn the heat down to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C), leaving the door open to let it cool down a bit quicker.

Now layer the mixture into the gratin dish, a third at a time, sprinkling the Mozzarella over each layer and finishing with Mozzarella.

Finally, sprinkle the mixture with the heaped tablespoon of Parmesan.

Bake in the oven for another 6 minutes, and serve very hot with just a leafy salad and a sharp dressing to accompany it.

If you want to make this ahead of time, it will need 35-40 minutes in the oven at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) to heat it through from cold.

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