Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pasta & Kale with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This point in mid-September is a really great time for pasta sauces, because you still have seasonal tomatoes and bell peppers but it's finally cooled down enough to slave over a hot stove. Roasting the tomatoes along with the red peppers concentrates their sweetness and dries them out a little, which keeps the sauce from getting too watery, and a little tomato paste finishes the job. Fried shallots and fragrant oregano sing backup -- a nice change from garlic and basil.

We've also used the 101 Cookbooks kale and pasta trick: add kale to boiling pasta just as it finishes, count to six and drain. It really works! We made this with brown rice rotini, but ziti, fusilli or any other small shapely pasta will be work too. (And while we ordinarily heart rice pasta, this batch met with an untimely end: a DNC canvasser knocked on the door at a critical moment, which meant that the pasta got overcooked. Score: Barack Obama 1, rice pasta 0).

4 red bell peppers
4 medium-sized tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 lb. pasta
10 leaves kale, de-stemmed and thinly sliced

Place the red bell peppers and the tomato halves (cut side up) on a cookie sheet and broil for 15-20 minutes, until peppers are blackened (check periodically to turn peppers, so that they blacken on all sides). Remove cookie sheet from broiler, transfer tomato halves to the blender and place peppers in a paper bag to steam for about 15 minutes. When the peppers have cooled down, peel off the charred skins, discard cores and seeds and chop roughly. Add the chopped peppers to the blender and pulverize with the tomatoes until well blended.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil or butter over medium-high heat and add the shallots, salt and crushed red pepper. Fry for a few minutes, until shallots start to color, then remove from heat. Add the tomato-pepper mixture, tomato paste and fresh oregano and return to a very low flame. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes, just to blend the flavors.

Cook your pasta according to package directions (unless you made your own pasta, in which case: feel superior! We're jealous). Just before the pasta is ready, add the kale, count to six, and drain. Mix in the sauce and serve.


eliz said...

i made gnocchi for the first time (ok, full confession: for the first time i have not gotten bored midway through and it has actually turned out successfully) on tuesday night! i had made AMAZING slow-cooked tomato sauce all evening and night on monday, and i wanted something good to pair it with. i remembered this video. so i got home at 7:20, watched the video as i peeled some potatoes from last week's farm share and boiled water, followed all the steps, and sat down with an AMAZING plate of gnocchi, sauce, and parmesan for the start of the new 90210 at 8! which was exciting because a) it was so fast!, and b) it is the only thing besides the olympics that i have watched on tv in 2008, so it was two events at once!
just saying. fast and easy, and you can use chestnut flour instead of wheat i am pretty sure! i put in some fresh parsley to the gnocchi to make the dish taste more summery, since slow cooked pasta sauce is nothing if not hearty and warming and wintery.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

this looks great - i'm excited to try it. luckily i live in a locked building, so no one can interrupt my pasta making - even obama! :)