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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. For strict vegetarians, exclude the anchovies.

 
 

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One

Method

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 (see _How to cook perfect pasta_, below). 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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