A to-die-for dish: Pasta with roasted red pepper cream sauce

When I do well, I’m not a terribly modest cook. Just ask T who had to listen
to me gush about this dinner and fish for compliments. It is that good.

In the mood for a foodgasm? Try this delectable and hearty pasta which is entirely easier than it looks to put together, I swear!

I got a wild hair for pasta last night and after perusing through recipes including this one from the Pioneer Woman and this one from Allrecipes.com, I threw together the meal below. It took me about an hour altogether, with 30-ish minutes of active work time. I served it with crusty French bread and balsamic-glazed roasted asparagus. (Super easy, just drizzle asparagus with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper, and bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes.)

The recipe is oh-so customizable, too. Feel free to add different veggies, leave out the meat, substitute the cream for something lighter. (Although I do NOT recommend light coconut milk. I tried that over the summer, it did not work very well.) Overall, it’s hard to screw up!

NSFD Ranking: **


Ingredients:

– 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage (optional)
– 4 red bell peppers
– 10-16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
– Medium onion, diced
– 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
– Fresh basil, sliced thinly
– Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
– Aged cheese like parmesan, romano or peccorino, freshly grated
– 1 pound dry pasta, penne, orechiette, or a similar shape

1. Set oven to Broil
2. Put bell peppers on a foil-covered cookie sheet that’s covered with non-stick spray or olive oil. Lightly spray the peppers, too, if you’re in the mood.
3. Broil until the peppers are charred black. Truly, the blacker the better. Flip over once to char both sides.
4. Once fully charred, carefully place peppers in a ziplock bag, seal tightly, set aside and let ’em sweat.
5. Start a big pot of water to boiling.
6. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a large frying pan over medium heat until cooked through. Remove sausage from pan and keep warm. (Skip this step for a vegetarian dish)
7. In the same pan, saute the onions over medium heat for a minute or two, then add the garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and happy. (If you skip the sausage, saute in some olive or canola oil instead of the drippings)
8. Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to release their liquid.
9. Pour in the white wine or broth, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 10-ish minutes, stirring occasionally.
10. By now the peppers should be cool enough to handle. Take them from the ziplock and slide off the skins. (The more you char, the easier this step will be!) Discard the stems, skins and seeds, and give ’em a rough chop.
(There’s about 10 minutes left to the cooking at this point, so depending on what type of pasta you use, you probably want to start cooking it now.)
11. Puree the peppers in a blender, add pepper mush to the mushrooms and onions.
12. Add sausage back to the pan, simmer for a few minutes until combined.
13. Drizzle the cream over the pan, stir well and simmer for a few minutes.
14. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
15. Drain pasta, add to pan and stir until coated.
16. Serve with a garnish of basil chiffonade (a fancy pants word for “thinly sliced”) and a bit of freshly grated cheese.

Note: The first time I made red pepper pasta, I followed the Allrecipes link above which called for only two peppers and two cups of cream (I used coconut milk). The flavor was somewhat bland and the consistency liquidy, so I recommend at least four peppers and a heavier cream. Fat free half-n-half works great.

Enjoy!

xoxo,
shawna

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