March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

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.

3 Pepper Pasta

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  1. First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pasta water should taste like the sea.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the red peppers and mince the garlic.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the fresh red pepper and pepper flakes, saute until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic, turn down the heat as you want the garlic to soften but not brown.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
  8. 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.)
  9. Drizzle with more olive oil, grind the black pepper over the top, add the parsley and grated parmesan.

Dinner is served!

Add the red peppers to the hot pan along with the red pepper flakes

Softened Red Peppers

Add the pasta to the red peppers

Chopped Parsley

Pasta with red peppers, black pepper, garlic and parsley

Finish with freshly grated cheese

This recipe is similar to one of my very first posts for pasta with peas, another pantry staple this time from the freezer.

I am taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday, over at Angie’s. Can you believe it is #163! Click on the link to see what everyone else is bringing to the party.

October in the kitchen – Pasta with Peas

October in the kitchen – Pasta with Peas

Ok, so I don’t have any fresh peas from my garden yet. I don’t expect to see any until next spring. There is, however, a trusty package of frozen baby peas in the freezer. And, I have also been pinching the very tops of the snap and snow peas to encourage bushiness (the flowering sweet peas get pinched as well but they are not edible). Those trimmings can be tossed in a salad or used as a garnish for the following pasta dish.

I’ve been using the young fava bean leaves in salads. I don’t grow favas for the beans but rather for their ability to fix nitrogen and improve the soil, they are called a cover crop. The leaves have the subtle flavor of favas and are a lot less trouble than the beans. Because I want their energy to go back into the soil and not into making beans, I cut dig them in when they start to flower. Meanwhile the young leaves are delicious.

Pasta with Peas (Serves 6-8)

Pasta with peas and pea shoots

Pasta with peas and pea shoots

The following recipe uses 4 of the ingredients from the basic 20:

  • Pasta – 1 lb. (regular or gluten free), your choice of shape
  • Olive oil or softened butter – 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup)
  • Parmesan – grated, about a cup plus more for serving
  • Salt
  • Pepper to taste

Additions:

  • Frozen peas – ½ package defrosted
  • Fresh herbs from your garden – mint, parsley, thyme – a good handful, minced
  • Optional – Pea shoots from pinching your plants or the store (I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt (kosher) until it tastes like the sea. Toss in your pasta and cook according to the package directions, tasting to make sure it is done to your liking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Do not rinse.

Add the olive oil or butter to the warm pot; add the peas and heat for about 30 seconds. Dump your pasta back in the hot pot, add the herbs and toss until well mixed, add a little of the hot cooking water if it looks dry, then the cheese and toss again. If the mixture still looks dry, add a bit more cooking water. The cooking water contains starch, which turns butter and cheese into a creamy sauce. Don’t add too much as you don’t want it to be watery. Taste to see if it needs more salt. Turn into a warm serving bowl or individual plates. Garnish with the pea shoots and grate some additional cheese on the top.

Yum!