Our friend Debbie Koenig, author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too brings us her Hail Mary Pasta. As long as you cut it into small, quick-cooking pieces, you can substitute almost any vegetable for the zucchini—whatever’s in the fridge, threatening to spoil—but don’t skip the tomatoes. The sweet juices they release are the base of the sauce.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (covered to speed things up).
  2. Combine tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and olive oil in a rectangular baking dish. Put the dish in the oven before the water boils, if you can manage it. Roast, giving the dish a shake every 5 minutes, until most of the tomatoes have burst, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, when the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  4. If you’re lucky, the tomatoes will burst before the pasta’s done. If not, drain the pasta and put the colander over the pasta pot, then put the pot’s lid on top of the pasta to keep it warm.
  5. When the tomatoes have burst, pour a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water into the baking dish and stir it around, to get all the good stuff off the bottom and sides. Pour the pasta back into the pot, add the sauce, and stir. If it seems too dry, add the rest of the reserved cooking water.
  6. Serve topped with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Photo: (c) Bennington Photographers

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