Marcella promised me that if I was patient, I would eventually be able to used garlic and basil. This luscious, tomato-less pasta sauce stars bell peppers. Big, gorgeous yummy bell peppers.
Since the entire success of this dish rests upon the quality of the peppers, be sure to choose the very best raw, firm peppers with lots of meat. This was a challenge for me. Not because I couldn’t find great peppers. It’s just that I am irrational about the price of peppers. My husband will tell you that watching prices and bargain shopping when it comes to food is not my strong point. I tend to go for quality without regard to economy. I’ll willingly pay $6 for a couple of white beautiful fennel bulbs, or new baby artichokes, or a few perfect tomatoes. But for some reason that I probably need a few hours on a psychiatrist’s couch to figure out, paying $6 for three heavenly peppers just drives me crazy.
Prep the washed peppers by cutting them in quarters, cleaning out the core and membrane, and then removing the skins with a sharp swivel vegetable peeler. Take your time peeling so you preserve as much of the meat as possible.
After cutting the peeled peppers into manageable pieces, they are roasted, not over a fire or in an oven but in garlic infused oil in a sauté pan.
When the peppers are tender but not mushy they are tossed with the cooked drained pasta. Rigatoni was Marcella’s first recommendation, so I decided to go with an extra large size to match the rustic look of the peppers.
Once the sauté is tossed with the pasta, melted butter is added. Finally, at the very last minute before serving, freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and roughly torn basil leaves are folded in.
When I put this pasta bowl on the table in front of Dan, he looked at it and asked, “No meat? When are we going to have a pasta dish with a little meat in it?”
I sweetly suggested that he stop talking and try tasting, he would have meat later, in a future pasta dish. But, I’m not telling him how much later. Next week he will get some nice anchovy in his pasta. After that some tuna. Then comes sardines. And, finally, on June 29th, he will have fresh pork sausage.