Smoky Pesto Pasta Stars Charred Sweet PeppersCourse: DinnerCuisine: MediterraneanDifficulty: Easy
We love the Jimmy Nardello sweet red Italian peppers. We grow them in our garden as well as buy them at the farmer’s market. They grill so well or roast well too. They are sweet and tender. My kids gobble them up as do my husband and I. This recipe is a wonderful balance of sweet, smokey and savory. The pesto is so good and much lighter than traditional pesto. You can use the pesto for meat dishes or even shrimp that has been grilled or use on a crostini with some Manchego cheese. I made this and my family begged me to make it the next night.
1 box of spaghetti
15-20 sweet peppers
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 oz Manchego, about 1/3-1/2 cup-tightly packed
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley leaves and sprigs
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to instructions.Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before straining.
- Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment and toss peppers in 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Place on sheet and in the oven for 15-20. You want them wilted, blistered and some charred areas. Allow the peppers to get some color, transfer peppers to a plate and season with salt.
- Toast the pine nuts in a toaster oven or in a pan but watch carefully that they don’t burn. Once the nuts are golden after about 2-3 minutes, remove to the bowl of a food processor.
- Reserve 8 peppers for serving, 2 each person. The rest of the peppers, stem and seed them, and place the peppers in the food processor, with the Manchego, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 cup oil. Pulse into a paste, stopping to scrape sides down, pulse again until smooth. Heat the skillet over low heat, Transfer pesto to pan and stir until pesto is warm. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the pan with 1/4 cup pasta water and toss to combine everything. If the sauce is too thick, add more of the pasta water. Garnish with more cheese and fresh Italian parsley.