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dinner party prep

January 17, 2008

i’ve been invited to an all-women dinner party on friday night.  the host is preparing the main course (vegetarian) and guests have been asked to bring a dish.  i picked “starch” and immediately found a recipe for “savory mashed root vegetables” on the food network site.  i also found what looks like a killer take on mac and cheese.  i really can’t stress how great that site is, btw.

i’ll blog more about the dinner party over the weekend (hopefully with pictures!) because it should be hella interesting but first i thought i’d post the planned recipes for posterity.

Savory Mashed Root Vegetables (Tyler Florence)
3 pounds assorted root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and rutabaga, coarsely
chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the vegetables and garlic in a large pot and fill with cool water to cover; season with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, combine the heavy cream, butter, and herbs in a pot and heat over low flame to melt the butter and infuse the herb flavor into the cream – do not allow to boil. Shut off the heat, cover, and let steep until needed. When ready to use, remove the herb stems and the bay leaves.

Drain vegetables and put them into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in the warm cream mixture and mix until the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are smooth; season with salt and pepper. Put the mashed root vegetables in a serving bowl, garnish with chopped chives and drizzle with a healthy dose of olive oil.

Baked Penne w/ Roasted Vegetables (Giada DeLaurentiis)
2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

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