Last week, I posted a blog which provided a short tribute to Mark Bittman’s Minimalist column, which ended that same day. In Bittman’s last column, he reminisced about his very first column, which detailed the greatness of a simple ingredient — the Red Pepper. In that column he provides his very first recipe as well, for a roasted red pepper puree. While the puree only contains three ingredients — red peppers, salt and extra virgin olive oil — it is full of potential. Bittman gives some other ideas and ways to utilize this versatile puree.
Last night, maybe with this article in the back of my mind, I decided to make a roasted red pepper puree with the 2 that I had on hand. What I was going to do with it was another matter. I flirted with the idea of adding it to the plate and topping with a piece of fish and tofu for the vegetarian. Quickly I remember that this could just as easily be used as a sauce. I decided that I’d make some macaroni, mix it with the puree and add a few vegetables for added nutrition and taste. I guess what I ended up creating was a baked pasta dish, though the cheese I had on hand could have been swapped for a little bit better dish.
I’ll details the ingredients that I used, though I’d suggest a different cheese. Feel free to include different vegeables or include none at all. I use a barilla plus pasta exclusively, which tastes nothing like whole wheat pasta, and has a lot of protein and added nutrients.
4 large red peppers
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pound macaroni, cooked 1-2 minutes less than package directions
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese (your choice)
Preheat oven to 475. Line a baking sheet with foil, enough that it can cover over the pepper when they are done. Place peppers in pan and roast for 40 minutes. Turn every 10 minutes. Peppers should collapse.
Toward the last 15 minutes of the roasting, cook pasta and heat a medium sauce pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and zucchini and cook for 10 minutes, until soft.
Remove pan from oven and cover with extra foil. Let cool. When cool enough to touch, remove skin, core and seeds. Work over a bowl to catch any liquid. Reset oven to 375.
Add peppers to food processor along with 2 tablespoons liquid. Turn on processor and drizzle in olive oil. Don’t add it all at once. Stop the processor and test the consistency. You also can add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper, to taste. Remove from processor and place in a bowl.
Mix cooled pasta, red pepper puree and onion/zucchini mixture. Place in a lasagna pan or similar dish, top with cheese and bread crumbs. Cook at 375 for 15 minutes, or until golden on top. Enjoy!!