Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roasted Zucchini Pasta

Whoever says teaching is a part-time job should follow me around for a day and see what it's really like. I teach all levels of Algebra and deal with all grade levels. It's a challenge to keep everybody engaged, especially for such a long ninety minutes. That is difficult even for me because I don't have any experience with block scheduling so sometimes I end up either overplanning or underplanning. And the paperwork? Oh, man...

My day starts at 6:15. I get up, get ready, drive about 40 minutes to school and arrive there at 8. I make whatever copies I need for that day and get myself organized with notes and handouts separated. Homeroom for 10 minutes and then it's first period for the next 90 minutes starting at 9:10. Then a much-needed-but-definitely-not-enough-five-minute break and on to second period for another 90 minutes. I eat lunch at 12:30 and some days I'm done teaching for the day (planning periods) and other days, I have one last class from 2 to 3:35. Teachers are allowed to leave at 4, but I've been staying until 5 because currently, I'm planning on a daily basis. Even if I'm not necessarily done at 5, I try to leave by then because I've still got quite a drive home and by that time I'm hungry. I need to get home before I hit the stage where I want to eat everything and anything in sight.

This is when recipes like the one I'm sharing today come in handy. I had food in my stomach in 30 minutes tops and it was a satisfying meal. I love pasta and I love zucchini and roasting is now my favorite method of eating any vegetable. I didn't have any fresh basil so I used oregano because that's my next favorite herb, but I think fresh basil would have really made this even better. This would also make a great lunch to pack. I could make double the amount one night and then save the leftovers.

I know some teachers don't like bringing work home, but they have years of experience to rely on. I, on the other hand, am really making it up as I go along so I am usually working on lessons until it's time for bed. But I made a promise to myself that I would not stay up at night. I need to take care of myself before I can get up and teach those kids. They really drain the energy out of you! It's a challenge... But I think it'll still be a fun challenge, as frustrating as it may seem right now.

Roasted Zucchini Pasta

Roasted Zucchini Pasta [Makes 4 servings]
From Ezra Pound Cake

2 lb medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 small sweet Vidalia onion or 4 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz penne or ziti, dry, preferably whole grain
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Feta or goat cheese, to taste (optional)
Optional additions: sun-dried tomatoes, sliced plum tomatoes, fresh corn, black olives, mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, pesto, roasted red pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss zucchini, onion, garlic and 3 tbsp oil in bowl. Spread into a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until zucchini is lightly browned, turning once, 15 to 20 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid before draining the pasta. Return pasta to pot. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil; cover and set aside.

Stir the roasted vegetables into the pasta. Add 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, and stir over medium heat until heated through. Add basil and cheese. Toss, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if dry. Taste, and adjust your seasonings. Serve immediately.

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