The medley of vegetables in this recipe should be juicy and well cooked, almost disintegrating, and not resistant to the tooth at all. The herbs, on the other hand, are used raw, which makes for a wonderful contrast. If you roast the vegetables ahead of time, which you can do, assembling this extravaganza is downright fun.
1 cup roasted bell pepper quarters
1 ½ cups roasted zucchini slices
24 roasted plum tomato halves
3 garlic cloves
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds orechiette (“little ears”)
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
Cut the pepper quarters into ¼-inch-wide strips; cut the zucchini slices in half.
In a large bowl, mash the tomatoes to a coarse pulp.
Peel, trim and slice the garlic. Rinse, pat dry, and coarsely chop the basil and parsley leaves.
In a large saucepan, saute the garlic and hot pepper flakes in the olive oil. (It is too much oil for the garlic, but the oil is part of the sauce.) When the garlic is softened, but not browned, add the mashed tomatoes and ground pepper. Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the roasted zucchini and roasted pepper ribbons, and combine well. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir to separate, and cook over high heat for about 8 minutes, until al dente. (Or follow the cooking directions on the package.) Drain the pasta in a colander. To prevent the pasta from sticking together, spread it out on a large baking sheet or platter and let it cool, about 15 minutes. Cover and hold at room temperature for up to 3 hours.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the sauce, Asiago, and chopped herbs. Toss thoroughly to combine, and serve.