Monday, November 9, 2009
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.
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.