Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

If you have not yet met The Pioneer Woman, she is someone I think you really should meet. She is a city girl who feel in love with and married a cowboy. They live together on a ranch in Oklahoma somewhere and along with countless "confessions" of living as a rancher's wife and incredible pictures of cows, horses, and country living, she also cooks up a storm.

This Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce is her recipe....and it is good. Roasting peppers is not a difficult task and it transforms the taste of a simple red pepper into something amazing. Watch out when you pair this sauce with does something incredible in your mouth--like make it really, really happy. This is a perfect pasta dish for a girlfriend's luncheon or an incredible side dish for dinner when paired with a simple salad and a steak.


3 red bell peppers
1/2 cup pine nuts, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese shaved or grated
1 pound pasta (orecchiette, penne, fusilli, or other medium-size pasta


1. Bring water to boil in medium size pot. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Place red peppers on grill pan and place on upper-middle rack in oven set to broil. Use tongs and rotate peppers 1/4 turn every 5-7 minutes. Look at how black your peppers are after the first 5-7 minute interval and adjust each subsequent time period accordingly. You want them blackened before rotating them.

This is my first 5 minute interval. They are not quite ready and could use 2 more minutes before being rotated.

This is after a second needs another minute or two before rotating....

Looking good...time to turn for the final time....

2. Remove red peppers from the oven and immediately place in a Ziploc bag to allow to sweat for 10 minutes.

3. While peppers are sweating, lightly toast pine nuts in medium-size skillet set over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes.. I used too small of a skillet and the pine nuts are too close in my opinion, but toasted fine. Watch carefully and stir frequently so they do not burn. Remove from heat. Transfer into bowl and set aside.

4. Remove red peppers from Ziploc baggie and peel the outer charred skins and remove inner seeds from each red pepper.

5. Transfer 1/4 cup pine nuts and red peppers to mixing bowl of food processor and give 5-8 long pulses. Mixture will not be completely smooth, but should be as smooth as you can get it to become.

6. Heat medium-size saute pan or pot over medium heat and add olive oil when hot. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

7. Add red pepper-pine nut puree to saute pan and mix thoroughly.

8. Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add up to 1 teaspoon more salt if necessary.

9. Add cooked pasta and parsley. Mix thoroughly.

10 . Place pasta into a bowl, top with Parmesan cheese, remaining toasted pine nuts, and additional parsley to garnish. Then give thanks for Italy. Repeat as necessary. I couldn't even wait to take a bite.

Yields 8 servings; Amount per serving: Calories 272; Total Fat 9.6g; Saturated Fat 2.8g; Cholesterol 52mg; Sodium 556mg; Total Carbohydrates 36.3g; Dietary Fiber 1.3g; Sugars 2.4g; Protein 10.5g; Vitamin A 33%; Vitamin C 100%; Calcium 10%; Iron 14

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman; Modifications mine.

For picky eaters, sauce can be a difficult thing. I started giving LG, my picky eater, plain noodles long ago instead of noodles with sauce. If your picky eater is at this place, simply pull out about one cup of cooked noodles in step one and call it a day, but remember, that is just a starting place.

The overall goal is for our picky eaters to eat the exact same meal as everyone else in the family. To do that, let's take it one step at a time. If step 1 is plain noodles, then step 2 is beginning to add some sauce, but definitely not as much as the recipe suggests. To do this, remove one cup of plain cooked noodles during the cooking process and set aside. After the original recipe is completed, take out a small quantity of noodles with sauce and mix that with the one cup plain noodles you set aside. By small amount, I mean at most 2 tablespoons. That quantity would be enough to give the plain noodles a tiny bit more color and a slight taste of the sauce, but it should not be too overpowering in taste, texture, color, or appearance.

Step 3, the place where LG is now, is to gradually increase the ratio of noodles with sauce to noodles without sauce. The idea is to get it closer and closer to the original recipe. Instead of 1 cup plain noodles to 2 T saucy noodles, use 1 cup plain to 3 T saucy. Then 1 cup plain to 1/4 cup saucy. Then 1 cup to 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup. The process that I am speaking of would occur over a prolonged period of time, even a span lasting 6-12 months.

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