Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity, this time the need for a quick dinner with minimal ingredients (the fridge was almost bare). We were away over the weekend, arriving home on Sunday night hungry from a long drive. Something was required almost instantly before true bad humor hit. This recipe will do it for you…it literally took only 15 minutes from the time the pasta water came to a boil. Apart from pantry staples (a box of dried pasta, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes) only 2 sweet fresh red peppers are required. Don’t have red peppers in the fridge? Use Brussels sprouts or cabbage or winter squash (you will need to peel and cut them into quite small cubes) or red onion or fresh tomatoes in summer. If you have fresh herbs on hand or in the garden, toss them in at the end. What about basil with tomatoes, mint with carrots or peas, cilantro with frozen corn? Be inventive! It’s nice to have a color contrast but certainly not required.
The 3 types of pepper in this recipe come from red peppers, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and a generous grinding of black pepper.
You will have dinner on the table faster than it would take you to run to the deli for takeout.
3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic – serves 4 to 6 generously
- Dried pasta of your choice, I used a 1 lb. box of fusilli
- 2 fresh red peppers, cored and seeded, then cut into julienne sticks
- 4 – 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- kosher salt
- Pinch or about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
- Generous grind of black pepper, or about 1/2 teaspoon
- Chopped parsley or other herb (optional), about 1/2 cup
- Freshly ground parmesan or other hard cheese
- First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pasta water should taste like the sea.
- While the water is coming to a boil, slice the red peppers and mince the garlic.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta and set a timer. The fusilli required 13 minutes for al dente. Since I planned to cook it with the red peppers at the end, I wanted a little bite left in it.
- Put a saucepan, large enough to hold the cooked pasta, over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.
- Add the fresh red pepper and pepper flakes, saute until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes)
- Add the garlic, turn down the heat as you want the garlic to soften but not brown.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
- Add the pasta to the saucepan with the peppers and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and stir, add the reserved cooking water by tablespoons until the pasta softens a bit more and glistens. (You will probably not need the full cup.)
- Drizzle with more olive oil, grind the black pepper over the top, add the parsley and grated parmesan.
Dinner is served!
This recipe is similar to one of my very first posts for pasta with peas, another pantry staple this time from the freezer.