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Baked Penne with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Parmesan
~adapted slightly from Gourmet, January 1998~
3 large yellow bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms
2 medium red bell peppers
2 medium orange bell peppers
1 pound penne pasta
8 scallions (green part only)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
Chop yellow bell peppers and onion and mince garlic. In a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan cook yellow peppers, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in cream and milk. In a blender puree mixture in batches (use caution when blending hot liquids), transfer to a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. (Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to room temperature before proceeding.)
Thinly slice mushrooms lengthwise and cut red and orange bell peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips. In a deep large heavy skillet cook mushrooms and peppers in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 8 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Fill a 6- to 7-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain penne well in a colander. Rinse penne and drain well. Thinly slice scallion greens. Into sauce stir penne, mushroom mixture, scallion greens, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan, reserved cooking water, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a 3-quart shallow baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Bake penne in middle of oven until hot and pasta begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
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