Her Favorite Meal
Our youngest child is a pretty adventurous eater. I don’t know if it’s just her personality, or because she’s the youngest and goes along with what everyone else is eating. She still has her likes and dislikes, though, and her favorite main dish for a long time was tortellini with roasted red pepper sauce. This was so predictable that if Jeffrey was planning to make it for supper, he would ask Millie what she wanted to eat that night. He knew she would immediately pipe up, “Tortellini with pepper sauce!” I love that it is an easy dish to make, yet it’s beautiful and tasty, too.
This recipe comes from another Jack Bishop book, Pasta e Verdura. Conveniently, this book is arranged alphabetically by vegetable, with 140 vegetable-based pasta sauce recipes with pasta shape recommendations. We found it super helpful when we were faced with an abundant CSA share and a dearth of ideas of how to cook it. We could just check out the suggestions for the veggie(s) that we wanted to use.
Though tortellini is often our preferred pasta, we also make this dish with spaghetti squash . Or we use it as pizza sauce, or anywhere you might use a pesto or pasta sauce (e.g. sauce for cooked summer squash, hummus, sandwich spread…). Just be sure to adjust the seasonings when used for something other than pasta (it will need less). This recipe calls for parsley, “so that the pepper flavor can really shine through,” but another, similar, Bishop recipe calls for basil (and no pine nuts). And though red peppers make a lovely sauce, yellow and orange should be pretty, too. Feel free to experiment!
Though the recipe calls for two large bell peppers, it should really say two huge peppers; a pound is a lot of pepper. I found it to need closer to 3 large bells, and 5 of a longer, thin pepper such as The Healthy Kitchen’s Cubanelles that I used.
I have included instructions for oven roasting peppers, as that is what I am most familiar with. They can also be roasted over a gas stove or on a grill. I’m sure Google will yield plenty of instructions for either. Go here for a printable recipe and here for printable roasting instructions.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
From Pasta e Verdura by Jack Bishop
2 large bell peppers (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small clove of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound pasta
- Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta (or begin cooking spaghetti squash).
- Roast the peppers (see below). When cool enough to handle, peel them with your fingers. Core, halve, and seed the peppers.
- Place the peppers, pine nuts, and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube and process until smooth.
- Scrape the red pepper puree into a bowl. Stir in the cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if necessary. (A small quantity of sauce has to cover a pound of pasta so it should be very well seasoned.)
- While preparing the sauce, cook and drain the pasta, making sure that some water clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with all but a few tablespoons of the red pepper puree. Mix well and transfer portions to warm pasta bowls. Dollop a small amount of the reserved pepper puree onto each portion and serve immediately.
Oven Roasted Peppers
From Pasta e Verdura by Jack Bishop
Adjust the oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Place the peppers so that they are an inch or two from the heating element (Bishop says on the rack, I use a cookie sheet). Broil turning carefully several time with tongs and taking care not to puncture the peppers, until the skins are lightly charred but not ashen on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the charred peppers in a small paper bag, roll the bag closed, and set the peppers aside to steam for about 5 minutes or until the skins pucker. When cool enough to handle, peel the peppers with your fingers (although rinsing makes the job easier, it also washes away some flavor), then core and seed them.