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Vegetable Cacciatore with Whole Wheat Penne

Serves 4

This super-nutritious pasta dish contains a varied, vitamin-rich assortment of veggies in a tomato sauce over penne.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 medium portabello caps or 3/4 pound mixed sliced mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick across
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced or finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red or white wine (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (32 ounces)
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (tangy, salty) or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (nutty, salted butter flavor)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


  1. Heat the EVOO, four turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and brown, 10-12 minutes. Add the thyme, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic, chili pepper or flakes, salt and pepper; partially cover and cook for 7-8 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant. Add the wine, if using, and reduce by half; add the stock and tomatoes, breaking them up with wooden spoon. Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir in the basil; reduce for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are broken down and the sauce thickens a little.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, then drain the pasta and add it back to the pot. Combine with half of the sauce, half the starchy cooking water and half of the cheese. Toss for 1-2 minutes to combine, adding a little more water if dry. Serve in shallow bowls topped with the remaining vegetables and sauce, along with extra cheese.

Cooking with alcohol enhances the flavors of certain dishes. Some of the alcohol burns off in the process of cooking. If you are concerned about using alcohol when you cook, you may use the appropriate substitute listed in the ingredients.