pasta with roasted red pepper cream sauce

Someone please tell me if I’m missing out, but most years Patrick and I do not go out to dinner on Valentine’s day. We generally find ourselves at home or hanging out with friends. I’ll be honest, it gives me an excuse to make pasta for dinner and something indulgent and chocolate-y for dessert (like THIS or THIS), which might sound cliché, but if you don’t eat pasta on Valentine’s day then when DO you eat pasta?

I’ve never been a huge fan of spaghetti sauce (please don’t disown me), but this a red sauce I can definitely get behind. It’s super flavorful, not the least bit boring, and with a touch of spice. There’s also a bit of cream, just in case you feared I was going to go all “health-nut” on you and say the sauce’s base was made from overnight soaked cashews. This recipe has been through a few rounds of taste-testing and I have yet to grow tired of it, in fact, I might make it again this week. So skip your 10pm dinner reservation on one of the busiest restaurant holidays of the year, and eat a plate of delicious pasta at home that would have cost you $24 at said restaurant.

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PASTA WITH ROASTED RED PEPPER CREAM SAUCE
serves 4 as a main

Ingredients:
1 large or 2 small heads of garlic
2 medium red bell peppers
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the garlic and pasta
3 cups quality stock, either chicken or vegetable
6 oz tomato paste
3/4 cup heavy cream
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. Spaghetti or Bucatini noodles
grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the top(s) off the head(s) of garlic and place on a large square of foil. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and generously salt and pepper. Wrap the foil completely around the garlic and place on the prepared baking sheet. De-seed and de-stem the bell peppers, then dice and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Spoon the bell pepper onto the baking sheet and roast (with the garlic) in the oven for 30 min, until the edges of the bell pepper are beginning to crisp. Partway though roasting, begin the next step.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven and set to medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown. Then add the stock, tomato paste, and roasted bell pepper. Open the foil containing the garlic, being careful not to lose any of the yummy oil, and pour out the olive oil into the pot. Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and add to the pasta sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil, and while you are waiting for it to boil, start the next step.

Blend the sauce together in the pot with an immersion blender (or transfer to a heat proof blender, blend in batches, and return to pot). Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste.

Boil your noodles al dente (according to package directions). Drain the noodles and toss with a glug or two of olive oil. Add the noodles to the sauce and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with grated parmesan.

Leftovers will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator.

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