Monday, November 9, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

The sweet, smoky flavor of roasted red peppers is, in my opinion, a lovely addition to almost any savory dish, be it soup, salad, sandwich, or pasta (as in today’s recipe). These are such a beloved ingredient that I try to roast and freeze several pounds of peppers when they’re in season. A beyond worthy investment, since they liven up my meals throughout the winter months.

Sadly the frenzied pace of work knocked that plan right off my plate this summer. But to my delight, these pretty reds were on sale at the Asian grocer just last week. Wouldn’t you know, I snatched some right up for roasting! If you have a gas stove, you have the option of blackening bell peppers directly over a burner flame. Just be prepared for any hot juices that may break free! The smell is tantalizing but the mess is not, so I stick with the oven broiler method I’ve set out in detail after the jump.

Roasted red peppers shine in anything from lasagna rolls to hummus; the possibilities truly abound. But if what you seek is a creamy yet light, spicy and flavor-packed pasta dish that can be easily doubled for company, I humbly offer my recipe.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce [Printable Recipe]
Serves 2 to 3

8 ounces spaghetti or other pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 to 3 roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
(Directions for roasting your own peppers below)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 dried red chili, broken in half (optional)
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley and/or basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the dried chili and let it infuse the oil for about 30 seconds. Then add the onions and garlic to the pan. Saute for a minute, stirring frequently to ensure that the garlic does not burn. Add in the roasted red peppers and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the herbs and cream and remove from heat. Let cool for several minutes and then puree the sauce right in the pan with an immersion blender.

Alternately, you can transfer the mixture to a regular blender and puree it that way. Finally, stir the grated parmesan into the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, and combine the sauce with the pasta.

2009.11.08 Pasta with Red Pepper Cream Sauce (Collage)
Roasting Your Own Bell Peppers (Broiler Method)
Red bell peppers
Large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or foil for easy clean-up
Vegetable oil (not olive oil)

Preheat your oven's broiler. Lightly coat each pepper with a thin layer of oil.

Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and place it about 2 inches below the broiler heat source. Broil the peppers until most of the exposed surfaces have blackened (about 8 to 10 minutes). Remove the sheet from the oven and gently flip each pepper over with tongs or even 2 forks. Return to the broiler for another 6 to 10 minutes until the other side has blackened.

Take the peppers out and turn off the oven. Then move them (again, with tongs or forks) into a paper bag. Close the bag and let them steam for 10 to 20 minutes (to loosen their skins) until cooled. Alternately, if you don't have a paper bag, you can throw 'em all in a bowl over the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam that way.

Once the peppers are cool, remove the stems and peel off the charred skin. Do NOT rinse them, as you'll be washing precious flavor down the drain. Next, slice open each pepper and use the back side of a knife to scrape out the seeds and membranes.

These roasted red lovelies are now ready for use in a myriad of dishes... Try my pasta or pick your own adventure and please share the delicious details with me after.


  1. Oh wow - that looks amazing! I have only roasted peppers a few times (or capsicums as we call them) - but I really do love the flavour.

  2. I love roasted red peppers. They add such a delicious flavor to whatever you put them in. Sweet and yet savory at the same time. They are delicious in pasta, and this sauce looks amazing.

    I prefer the stovetop method. Mostly because I feel like I'm camping. And I like playing with fire. ;)

  3. I looove this - looks delicious. I still remember the first time I saw someone roast a red pepper on the gas stovetop --- I thought they were nuts! But then I started doing it myself; and now I also do mine in the broiler.

  4. I always roast mine in the broiler. I can't wait to try this recipe. I'm asking for an immersion blender for Christmas :) Could I blend the sauce in a food processor do you think? or is a blender better?

  5. Sighh you said roasted red pepper cream sauce. I think you just put all my favorite words into a sentence.

    I too used to eat a vegetarian diet with just a little seafood in it. Not anymore thanks to being married to an ex-cattle rancher kid.

    I'll be sneaking in some of your food into my house.

  6. Alicia - I love that name "capsicum"! Sounds so much more interesting than plain ole bell pepper hehe.

    Joanne - The stovetop method is more fun (yay pyromania ;p) I agree, but I have a penchant for always burning myself so I learned to play it safe.

    Carmen - I know what you mean, it does seem pretty dangerous. Especially when I set my pepper on fire the first time I tried it over the burner...oops.

    Megan - I think either blender or food processor would work. Just be sure to let the mixture cool down a bit first. You don't want hot liquids splashin up at ya! The immersion blender really simplifies the process though.

    Laura - Haha I can understand how it'd be hard to stick to your old diet around your man. Mine is a carnivore too, but he lets me control the menu a lot fortunately =D.

  7. I read just the name of this and I almost died it sounded so good. Then I saw the picture and it LOOKS so good! I can't eat dairy for a couple of weeks (allergy testing) but I would love to make this for my family....and maybe have a bite. What you eat standing up doesn't count, right?? ;)

  8. Thanks, Koko! I hope you don't turn out to be allergic. Though I haven't tried it, I imagine you could make a similar cream-style sauce with blended cashews instead.

  9. Thank-you Xiaolu for the comment on my flickr by the way. I really appreciated it as few go over there. I took the image down to re-edit it, but I still know you left one. :)


  10. I understand all about re-editing. You don't even wanna know how many times I edit a post even after it's up O:). That photo was stunning already. Thanks for letting me know.

  11. This pasta recipe looks great! I would use the sauce to accompany so many dishes. I am not the biggest fan of the red pepper.......but when it is roasted something magical happens. I also love roasted pepper hummus. For a little salty twist think I might add some chopped Calamata olives to this sauce. Think I need to go roast some peppers!

  12. Marla, I love your idea of adding olives! I may just have to try that next time. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  13. This sounds awesome! I love that there's a little bit of cream but not too much.

  14. Thanks! I've seen similar sauces with more cream but I find it counterproductive to cover up/weigh down all that great roasted pepper flavor.

  15. I love roasted capsicum, but i have never thought of using it with cream. I can't wait to try this recipe. Somehow I have never roasted my capsicum till they are so black and charred, I tend to take them out but so they are not so soft. But seeing your pix, I think I'll leave them longer from now on.

  16. You certainly don't need to cook them that dark, but I feel it intensifies the flavor and softer is better for pureeing into sauce. Thanks for stopping by!


I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu