So often, when I think about what I want to make for dinner, I crave creamy pasta. Obviously, loading up a plate of pasta with heavy cream and cheese isn’t going to work out in the long term, so a lot of my experiments over the fall and winter months have been playing around with different ways to turn vegetables into a healthy pasta dish that’s still creamy and cheesy. And, after watching a few episodes of Chopped, you start to realize you can puree just about anything into a sauce. I made this dish a couple of times, and I’ve found that the key to this combination is the Parmesan. It’s saltiness is the perfect bridge between the sweetness of the roasted peppers and the tang of the goat cheese. Without the Parm, the goat cheese + red pepper combination falls a bit flat, and the end result is a lackluster, too-sweet red mess.
Although roasting the red peppers and letting them rest does take some time, the rest of this dish comes together amazingly quickly. To save time, you can buy jarred roasted red peppers and add them to the food processor as-is. I personally like buying my own peppers and roasting them: it’s much cheaper, and you can ensure that the skins blacken nice and even. This also works well as a make-ahead meal. The sauce will keep will in the fridge for a few days, so you can double the recipe and just boil some pasta on a busier day.
Pasta with creamy roasted red pepper and goat cheese sauce
2 medium red bell peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 oz. goat cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon half and half
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 pound pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
1) Preheat an oven to 450. Wash the red peppers, but leave them whole. Roast the red peppers and the garlic together on a rimmed baking sheet, about 40 minutes (keep the garlic unpeeled). Flip the peppers on their sides halfway through roasting to help ensure more even blackening. Remove the peppers and place them inside a brown paper bag for 20 minutes. Squeeze the garlic bulbs out of their papery peels and into the bowl of a food processor.
2) When the red peppers have rested for 20 minutes, remove them from the paper bag and peel off the skin. The peppers should peel fairly easily. Using a knife if needed, remove the seeds and stems from the peppers. Transfer the roasted peppers to the food processor. Add the goat cheese, olive oil, half and half, and Parmesan. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds.
3) While the peppers are resting, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add the pasta. Cook as instructed on the package, until al dente. Drain thoroughly in a colander and return the pasta to the pot or a large serving bowl. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and stir until evenly coated. Serve immediately, with Parmesan cheese on top.