Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Sometimes you just want to make something that has, like, 5 ingredients.  Seriously, whole shows are devoted to the concept of simplicity.  5 Ingredient Fix, anyone?  Because maybe you're tired or you've had an uber-busy day.  Or just don't feel like broasting and basting and filleting and marinating and heightening the umami.  Just... straightforward please.

I've made a handful of Pioneer Woman recipes, including her deadly cinnamon rolls.  I withered (in a good way) when I ate one for the first time.  I've made her roasted red pepper pasta before, and it comes together in no time if you use jarred roasted peppers.  PW roasts her peppers, which isn't difficult.  I'm definitely not averse to roasting your own peppers, it's just that red bell peppers for some reason have been expensive lately.  So for simplicity's and my budget's sake, I used jarred peppers.

Confession:  I don't really care for parsley, but I love the way it makes a dish pop!  I suffer for my art.

This is all it takes: olive oil, roasted bell peppers, pine nuts, onion, garlic, and cream.  And salt.  I usually forget to take pictures of salt and pepper I think because I assume the seasoning to be automatic.  You don't really need me to tell you salt and pepper are important.

Give half an onion a good dice and mince the garlic.  We're off to a good start already.

You don't have to toast the pine nuts, but it's highly recommended.  Toasting any kind of nut activates the oils and really brings out the flavor.  Try it the next time you make pecan pie.  Phenomenal.  Anyhow, I probably used more than the recipe called for, but I'm familiar with the flavor.  If you're not, stick to 2 tablespoons or less.

Get out your blender and toss the red peppers in there, juice and all.  It's not that much extra liquid, so I'm not worried about it thinning the sauce too much.  These are whole peppers though, so if you use peppers that are already sliced into strips you might have more liquid than you want.

Give it a nice puree in the blender.  This is definitely a chunky sauce, so don't worry too much about it getting smooth.

Are your pine nuts toasty?  Good.  Take them off the heat so they don't burn.  No one likes scorched nuts.

Start softening the garlic and onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  I used a large pan with substantial sides since I added the pasta directly to the sauce later.

Add the pine nuts to the pureed peppers.

Give her a whirl, and you should still be able to see a hint of the pine nuts.

Add the puree to the onions and garlic.  Give it a stir and let the flavors get to know each other.  Go ahead and season it a bit with salt and pepper.  Since we used jarred peppers, there was a little salt in the juices.  Just keep that in mind.

Boil the water for pasta and cook the pasta until it's almost al dente.  I used orecchiette, but you can use what you have on hand.  I think I'd bought the orecchiette for a dish months ago and never used it.  I recommend using a pasta that has ridges or maybe one that has some shape, like rotini or fusilli.  Textured pasta gives the sauce something to hold onto, and orecchiette holds sauce like a tiny cup.  It's also Italian for "little ear."  I realize that might not be the most appetizing thing to think about, but hey, linguine means little tongues.  Just don't think about it.

Pour in some heavy cream.  Did I mention this a cream sauce?  Guuuuh.

The sauce becomes a pretty red-orange color.

My many years of watching food shows has taught me to drain before it's al dente and let it finish cooking in the sauce.  It's magical.  And delicious.

You can see the pasta holding little bits of sauce.

I might not love parsley, but I adore shavings of parmesan.  It adds another little salty bite to the pasta.

This dish seriously comes together in no time, making it perfect for those nights you want home-cooking without spending the night in the kitchen.  And according to my mom, it gets even better the next day for lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta (serves 4)
only slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 jar roasted bell peppers
2 tbs pine nuts
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c heavy cream
Flat leaf parsley, minced (optional)
Fresh parmesan, shaved
1/2 lb - 1 lb pasta (Recommended: orecchiette, fusili, rotini, penne rigate, etc)

  • Toast pine nuts in a skillet, taking care not to burn.  Set aside.
  • Puree peppers in a blender.  Add pine nuts and puree again.
  • Boil water for pasta.  Cook pasta until almost al dente.
  • In either a skillet with high sides or a saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Add red pepper puree and cook over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add heavy cream and stir, seasoning with more salt if needed.  Add pasta to finish cooking in sauce.  Toss together.
  • Serve warm with parmesan shavings over top and sprinkled with parsley, if desired.


  1. i want to eat this for dinner, and have the blueberry muffins for breakfast - delish!!!

    now if i can just stop reading and start MAKING these recipes!