It may seem like a strange name, but this pasta really is special. Years ago (think middle school) for Father’s day, I bought my Dad one of those pasta kits, complete with a spice packet. The pasta was amazing and my parents figured out the spice mix (or at least pretty damn close) so we could replicate it. So we started calling it Dad’s Special Pasta, and well, the name stuck. This is a family staple for us, we often had this with grilled or parmesan chicken and we frequently made it when we had company. Everyone loves it. In fact, when Cat and I started this blog my old roommate Kate specifically requested this recipe….so Kate, here you go!
Now, I should tell you that the original recipe has bell peppers in it. Lots and lots of bell peppers, but as it turns out I’m not a huge fan of bell peppers. So I have modified this recipe to include zucchini and yellow squash. In my opinion, I think the best part about this pasta is the olive oil/spice mix and the gooey melted cheese, so whichever vegetable you prefer will work.
10 oz rainbow pasta (Wacky Mac is my personal favorite)
2 small zucchini, 2 small yellow squash (OR ½ each of yellow, red, and green pepper, thinly sliced)
8oz brick of mozzarella cheese
¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil (I used 1 tsp dry, and about 5 leaves of fresh)
¼ tsp thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Prep the vegetables first. I cubed the squash and sautéed it lightly with a drizzle of olive oil.
I like squash at least lightly cooked, so this is the method I prefer but you could also julienne them and keep them raw. If you are using the bell peppers slice them as thinly as possible. The best method for this is a mandoline, or a food processor fitted with a slicer attachment.
Cook the pasta while you cube the cheese and prepare the olive oil spice mixture.
For the spices, I crush them with a mortar and pestle, but you could also do this in the palm of your hand. It’s important to crush them otherwise they do not distribute as evenly throughout the pasta
Add the crushed spices, and the minced (or pressed) garlic to the olive oil. Mix to combine. By this time the pasta should be about done. Drain the pasta and toss into a large bowl, topped with veggies, cubed mozzarella, and the olive oil/ spice mixture. Mix well until all ingredients are distributed evenly. Top with the parmesan cheese and mix one more time. Now, this is where the magic happens. The hot pasta will melt the cheese creating ooey-gooey-cheesy deliciousness.