Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday night fever... for Italian

The only thing worse than an eight hour work day is an eight hour weekend work day. And when coming home, changing into anything with an elastic waste band and pouring myself a too-large glass of wine (sometimes I just forgo the glass and take the bottle, I must shamefully admit) just doesn't cut it, I cook. There's just something soothing, for me, about cooking. Until I burn something or a sauce is too thin, and at that exact moment I realize I'm out of flour or anything of the sort for thickening said sauce. Then I end up cursing like a sailor, more ticked off than I was in the first place. So, maybe cooking isn't all that cathartic, but food is. And a girl's gotta eat. So I cook. 

Tonight, a pair of red bell peppers were my inspiration. I'd like to think their deep fiery red hue sparked some creativity deep within  me.. but really-  these peppers were just a day away from becoming completely inedible, and I hate to see food go to waste. It was actually perfect, anyway, because I've been wanting to try my hand at a roasted red pepper pasta sauce. However, I've been trying to eat a tad "cleaner" lately (we'll see how long this lasts) so I wanted to keep the dish simple. In other words, no heavy creams- although that would have been a delectable addition to the sauce, so by all means feel free to improv. I figured the roasted red peppers would give the sauce such a sweet, unique taste, anyway; so, I kept my ingredients at a minimum:

2 red bell peppers
3 Tbsp olive oil (separated)
2 cloves of garlic (one can never have too much garlic.. unless you're out on a first date, maybe)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste- I like my food a little spicy)
1/4 C water
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Now, keep in mind I was eating alone tonight (cue the world's saddest song on the world's tiniest violin). No, I actually don't mind eating alone- sometimes it's nice to enjoy a meal without talking or worrying if you have anything in your teeth. Anyway, like I said- keep in mind I was eating alone so I only made enough sauce for about 3 servings. You could probably stretch it to four, but I'm the kind of person who believes more is always better, so my poor pasta was drowning in a puddle of sauce. 

The first thing to do is roast the red peppers AKA core them, halve them, and throw them in the oven to broil until blackened.

Meanwhile, mince the two garlic cloves and sauté them with the crushed red pepper flakes until the garlic is fragrant. In my experience this only takes about 1 minute, any longer and you'll burn the garlic- and no one likes burnt garlic. Once "fragrant," remove the pan from heat. When the peppers are thoroughly  blackened, place them in a brown paper bag for awhile to steam- this helps get the skins loosened. 

 After about ten minutes of steaming, the peppers should be fairly cooled. Now you can remove the skin from the peppers, slice them up and throw them in the blender along with 2 Tbsp olive oil, and purée.

Add the puréed peppers to the sauté pan with the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and salt/pepper to taste. I also added about 1/4 C water to thin the sauce. You can add more or less, or even add milk to thin the sauce. Serve over angel hair pasta (or whatever pasta noodle you prefer). This goes great with a side of oven roasted asparagus

And the finishing touch: top with goat cheese. This La Bonne Vie brand is a favorite of mine right now. I got it at my local Kroger. It's so incredibly creamy it should be illegal. Sometimes I think I could just eat it straight from the container. Okay... I actually have.
As if the goat cheese couldn't be any more devine... just wait until it melts into the pasta.

Oh, and of course- the most important detail-  my choice of wine for the night. I read somewhere that Chianti pairs well with dishes like Spaghetti al Pomodoro (AKA a fancy name for Spaghetti). I figured this dish is pretty related to Spaghetti al Pomodoro- and I just happened to have a bottle of Chianti- so, what the heck?! 

It was delicious; not too over-powering flavor wise, so it didn't high-jack the meal. And it was wine, so I was happy. 

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