Bachelorette Pasta Bake

- 3/4 cup penne pasta (or half a 12 oz box) - 1 cup tomato-based pasta sauce, or more if desired - 1 medium zucchini (courgette) - 1 medium tomato - 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and sliced - 1 cup shredded cheese (mozzerella, provolone, parmesian or muenster are good options) - salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
This was inspired by baked mac n' cheese popular in the American South, which is a casserole-type dish. This keeps well in the fridge, and I often find myself eating this for lunch for a few days straight, hence the "Bachelorette" part of the name. You'll need a ceramic or glass pan that can hold a volume of 6 cups or a little more. 1. Cook the penne pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, drain pasta in a colander and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 2. While the pasta drains, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then chop in small slices. Cut the stem-end of the tomato with a serrated knife. Hold the tomato over a sink or trash can, and remove the seeds by slightly squeezing the tomato and giving it a good, downward shake. This will remove most of the seeds, making the tomato easier to work with. Chop the tomato into small chunks--about an inch or a few centimeters long is fine. 3. Put pasta, tomatoes, zucchini and the sliced olives into the glass or ceramic pan. Mix the ingredients well. 4. Add pasta sauce and mix the sauce to coat the pasta and veggies evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point, or hold off until the dish is served. 5. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the dish evenly, being careful that the amount won't overflow out of the dish and into the oven. You'll want there to be a layer of cheese over the pasta and veggies, but it doesn't matter much if there's an errant piece of pasta or zucchini poking above the cheese surface. 6. Place the pasta concoction in the oven and let bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese along the edge of the pan appears brown and crispy (but not burnt). 7. Allow to cool a bit before serving with a slotted spoon.