Tomatoes aren’t the only sweet red fruit that make great pasta sauce. Red bell peppers are excellent too, especially paired with the faint licorice flavour of fennel seeds.
Yield: 4 servings
4 red bell peppers, halved, seeded and roughly chopped
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 whole head garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper
a 1 pound box penne pasta
few handfuls baby spinach
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Toss the peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, fennel seed and salt and pepper together in a large bowl until thoroughly coated. Pour into a 9- x 13-inch (3.5 L) baking pan. Roast until peppers are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour.
Transfer the roasted vegetables into a medium saucepan and purée with an immersion blender, adding a splash of water to help it along. Alternatively, put into a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Just prior to serving, reheat the sauce in a large pot.
Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Toss the hot pasta with the reheated red pepper sauce and the baby spinach and serve immediately.
You may use any of your favourite pastas for this dish. As you reheat the sauce, add in chopped fresh oregano or thyme.
The sunny flavours of the Mediterranean and the flavour of a live wood fire in my backyard make this one of my favourite ways to serve lamb. It’s a great excuse to fire up your grill any time of year. Both the marinade and the tapenade are wonderful with any type of meat or fish.