Marisa Ratchford / Daily Nexus

Marisa Ratchford / Daily Nexus

I absolutely love pasta. My relationship with it, however, was not as smooth-sailing as my passionate affair would have you assume. When I was little, I absolutely could not stand sauce. Throw some butter and parmesan cheese on a bowl of spaghetti noodles and I was set.

Looking back at my younger self makes me question who I am as a person. I was denying myself my grandpa’s delicious bolognese sauce in substitute for some tubbed margarine and store-bought grated cheese!? Disgraceful!

I still have strange quirks about my noodle propensity. I am untrustworthy of Alfredo sauce, and angel hair pasta or “thin spaghetti” is an abomination in my book, but I have grown so much more accepting of a variety of pastas. Thank god for that, too, because I may not have survived college this far without. Here is a recipe that I recently discovered and can’t get enough of. It beats Prego and Pasta Roni by a mile but requires very little effort. Enjoy!

12 oz dried penne
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
chopped basil, to garnish (about 2 tbsps)
salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by cooking the pasta as per usual for roughly 12 minutes or until slightly tender.
In a separate, large pan, heat the olive oil, then add the onion and garlic. Once softened, stir in the zucchini and bell pepper for roughly five minutes or until zucchini is tender.
Add the mascarpone cheese and tomato puree into the pan and let simmer. Season it to taste, and stir in half the basil.
Drain your pasta and return it to its pan, stir in the sauce and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately with your leftover basil sprinkled on top.

Adapted from The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook