A spicy and savory roasted red pepper pasta that uses fresh and pantry ingredients for a sauce that is so tasty and easy to make. It can be served with just your pasta of choice for a vegetarian meal, but it is also super tasty with shrimp or chicken added to the dish.
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I have been seriously enjoying watching episodes of Masterchef Australia and how creative these master home cooks have been. I am blown away at their culinary knowledge and creativity. This is where I got the idea for this roasted red pepper pasta sauce recipe.
Instead of shopping for new ingredients, I decided find ingredients I have in my pantry and refrigerator to go along with a main ingredient. I had some red bell peppers on hand that were close to being better for a stir fry or fajitas than for a salad and thought "why not a pasta sauce?".
Red bell peppers don't have to be perfect to be used in a pasta sauce since they get roasted and charred first. They can be a little wrinkly and that is ok.
I am a big fan of roasting red bell peppers at home instead of buying a jar of roasted red bell peppers due to cost, the jars can get pricey, even if convenient.
How to roast red bell peppers:
There are three ways you can roast bell peppers at home:
- Over a grill - gas or charcoal
- Oven - on a foil lined baking sheet using the broil setting
- Gas stove - peppers placed directly onto burner grates over open flame
I have a gas stove so this is the method I use. I just plop the peppers onto the grates over the flame and turn every so often to blacken the skin even the tops and bottoms.
For any of these methods, once the peppers are completely charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam the charred skins. Once cool enough to handle, rub the skin off of the peppers under cool running water in your sink. Remove the stems and seeds as well. That's it!
?Pantry items used in this roasted red pepper pasta sauce:
- Roasted cashews - gives the sauce a creamy texture as well as nuttiness. I used salted since that is what I had. You can use salted or un-salted
- Fish sauce - my go to for umami in any pasta sauces especially tomato based sauces
- Tomato Paste - this is a red bell pepper forward sauce but tomato paste adds some more umami and a tangy richness that is so good
- Olive oil - use a really good olive oil here, I love Luigi Tega olive oils
- Spices - Red pepper flakes for heat and smoked paprika for sweet and smoky goodness. Kosher salt and ground black pepper are also used in the sauce.
? Fresh ingredients used besides the red peppers:
- Lemon juice - I love adding lemon for brightness and acidity
- Basil - a few fresh basil leaves
- Garlic - just a couple cloves
- Parmesan cheese - stirred into the pasta sauce as well as garnish
This pasta sauce is made first in a blender with the addition of salty pasta water used to thin it out. I cook the pasta and save a few cups of the pasta water for the sauce and to loosen the noodles before I add them to the pan.
?How to make this recipe:
- Roast the red peppers and cook the pasta, reserve plenty of salty pasta water.
- Blend the sauce ingredients until smooth.
- Add the sauce to the pan in a few additions while also adding in freshly grated parmesan cheese and reserved pasta water. This sauce can be as thin or as thick as you like.
- Bring to a simmer while stirring.
Once the sauce is ready, taste and adjust any seasonings you like then add the cooked pasta and stir to coat it. At this point you can serve the pasta with your toppings of choice.
If you choose to add a separate protein such as shrimp or chicken, cook those separately then add in with the pasta.
- If your pasta is sticking to itself in the colander after draining before adding to the pan of sauce, pour some of the reserved pasta water over it and gently shake to loosen. You don't want to rinse in plain water. That will remove some of the starch and seasoning from the salted water the pasta was cooked in.
- You can roast several bell peppers at once and keep to make sauce for later. Freeze then thaw the peppers before using. Drain off any excess water.
- You can also make the sauce and freeze in an air tight container such as a deli container to use at a later date. It thaws and reheats beautifully.
FAQ about this recipe:
Can I substitute the nuts for something else?
Can I make this non-dairy?
Can I add meat to this pasta recipe:
Other delicious pasta recipes to try:
- Roasted Honeynut Pasta with Sausage and Chard
- Creamy Lemon Vodka Sockeye Salmon Pasta
- Spicy Italian Sausage Gnocci Ragù
- New Zealand White Wine Steamer Clams Pasta
- Chicken and Andouille Sausage Pasta with Creamy Smoked Mozzarella Cream Sauce
Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
For the Sauce:
- 450 g large red bell peppers (2 large)
- 60 g roasted salted cashews (about ⅓ cup)
- 30 g tomato paste (about 2 tablespoons)
- 26 g olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- 28 g lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cloves garlic ,peeled
- 6-8 basil leaves (Genovese basil)
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
To add to the sauce:
- 500 ml pasta water (about 2 cups, can reserve more)
- ½ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
- 454 g Pasta of choice (1 pound)
- Kosher salt for the pasta water
To finish the dish:
- Radish sprouts or chopped basil
- Olive oil
- Parmesan shredded
- Set a pot of water on your stove, add a few tablespoons of water. Don’t bring to a boil just yet.
- Either using your oven on broil or if you have a gas stove, char the bell peppers really well on all sides. If using your oven, place the peppers on a foil lined baking sheet, and watch closely, turning as the tops char. If using gas stove, place peppers directly on burner and turn as they char, making sure you get the tops and bottoms charred as well.
- Once completely charred, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to help steam the charred peels. At this point bring your pasta water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, according to package directions depending on what kind of pasta you use.
- While the pasta is cooking, take the peppers from the bowl and rinse under cool water while gently removing all of the charred skin. Remove the stem and seeds as well and place in a blender or food processor.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the blender or food processor. Start with one teaspoon of the red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth. Taste and if you want spicier add in the other teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
- Once the pasta is done, reserve at least 500ml, or two cups, of the salted pasta water, drain the pasta and set aside.
- Add some of the pasta water (about a quarter of it) to the sauce in the blender or food processor but not all of it. Just enough to thin the sauce, and be able to pour into a pan easily.
- Heat a large, high sided pan over medium heat and add the pasta sauce, stir until heated through then add the parmesan and more of the pasta water. You can add as much pasta water as you like depending on how thin you want the sauce. You really want it to just lightly coat the noodles, you may have sauce leftover.
- Taste and add more seasonings to the sauce if you like - more salt, lemon juice or even more red pepper flakes if you like. Once the sauce is starting to simmer add the cooked pasta.
- Stir until the pasta is coated.
- Divide pasta amongst bowls and add a drizzle of olive oil, a few radish sprouts or chopped basil, half a ball of burrata and a little more parmesan, if desired. Serve with crusty bread since its so good dipped in the sauce.
- This pasta sauce keeps well in an airtight container either in the refrigerator for a week or freezer up to three months. Thaw at room temperature before heating to use.