Thursday, October 14, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (for Pasta)

Towards the end of the summer there is always an overabundance of farm fresh ripe tomatoes of every kind. They are red, yellow, heirloom and even from your own backyard garden. And at the end of this season I saw a record number of recipes from other writers. I myself must have made my own version of oven roasted tomato sauce at least four times as August was winding down (which is the ONLY way I make it now…oven roasted). Well summer has ended and we did not get our typical Indian summer stretching into September, alas, the tomato parade has ended. I guess it is time for all sauce lovers to revert back to their favorite canned brand. And now onto my crisis……

The story begins on a chilly, rainy October evening. I am finally dragging myself in the front door after work at 7PM. My wife was busy playing chauffeur to Gia all day so I needed to get something quick and easy on the table as it is already late. The little light bulb goes off in my small man brain, I grab a large pot, fill it with salted water and boil away…clearly it is going to be a pasta night. This seemed like a great idea. That is of course until I looked in my pantry and found that I did not stock up on any can tomatoes yet because people were supplying me with tomatoes all summer long from their gardens by the bushel. So staring into my tomato-less pantry, but still with every good intention on making a nice warm bowl of pasta for my Deejay and Gia, I knew it was time to improvise. However, after an exceptional summer of farm fresh veggies, tomatoes were not the only thing I forgot to stock up on. Typically I would have everything from artichoke hearts to capers, just not tonight. So as I stood there staring at my bare pantry, I moved a box of crackers out of my way and staring back at me was my answer, one of my favorite jarred items of all time, the jar of Roasted Red Peppers.

Of course, this is not a typical hot bowl of pasta condiment, rather something you typically use for a cold pasta salad, but that night was cold and damp and we needed a hot meal on the table. I decided to use the charred and jarred peppers in the same fashion as I would canned tomatoes, and the result was delicious!

This is so simple to do, packs loads of flavor, takes only 25 minutes and is a nice departure from the tomato sauce version of weeknight pasta. Here’s how to do it!

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (for Pasta)

  • 1 lb Pasta (I use a Rigatoni style pasta for this or any Gluten Free substitute)
  • 2 - 13oz jars of Roasted Red Peppers; packed in water and vinegar
  • 1 clove of Garlic; minced
  • 1 small Onion; rough chopped
  • ¼ tsp Dry Basil
  • ¼ tsp Dry Oregano
  • ¼ tsp Dry Parsley
  • ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Empty both jars (with liquid) into your food processor and run until smooth.
  2. Place a mesh strainer on a bowl and pour in the puréed red peppers and let drain into the bowl (to remove  any seeds); use a spatula if it is not draining fast enough and mash it through the strainer.
  3. While peppers are straining; in a sauce pan or pot sauté the onions in a little olive oil until translucent over medium-low heat; about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  4. Add garlic and all dry ingredients and sauté until fragrant; about a minute.
  5. Add the strained red pepper puree to the pot, and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  6. While the sauce is simmering; bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and cook the pasta as per the packages directions.
At this point you can toss some sauce on the past and serve it. HOWEVER, for restaurant quality results, reserve some of the pasta water and use this cooking quick tip:

COOKING QUICK TIPS: save about 1 cup of the pasta water per pound of pasta. Pasta water is very starchy and can be used to help the sauce bind the pasta. This will help you avoid the “water floating in the bottom of your pasta bowl issue” you may see in low end restaurants. If you want to use this tip, continue this recipe with step # 1 below.
  1. CONTINUED FROM STEP 6 ABOVE; cook the past until JUST BEFORE al denté (as we are going to cook it a little longer after it is drained).
  2. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta (please never cook your pasta past al denté and never rinse your pasta). 
  3. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add about 2 ladles of the roasted red pepper sauce and bring it up to a simmer (this should be enough to coat the pasta).
  4. Put the pasta into the pot and pour in half of the reserved pasta water; stir everything around to combine. The pasta water will start to come together with the sauce and the pasta and the pasta will look coated and thick, not watery (as seen in the picture below). Only use the rest of the pasta water if you want to thin out the sauce. 
  5. Server with an additional scoop of roasted red pepper sauce on top and some grated cheese (optional).
  6. EAT !
The above may seem like a lot of steps but it really isn’t. The entire process should only take about 25 minutes in total. That beats out Rachel Ray and her 30 Minute Meals by 5 minutes…and trust me, this one does not taste like you took any shortcuts.  

INGREDIENT OPTION: I have done this with pork sausage turning it into a type of meat sauce. Just grab a link or two of your favorite sausage, slice open the casing, crumble the pork into the pot and cook browning it slightly before you add the onions in step # 3 in the first part of the recipe. Use the pork fat to sauté the onions and continue the recipe…come on now, a little fat won’t kill you…

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce over Rigatoni

I use Wegman’s brand Roasted Red Peppers which are labeled Gluten Free to make this for my family. I also use gluten free corn pasta. 

That makes this dish: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free and Soy Free

Please be aware; check the package ingredients on your pasta to make sure it is free of all of the above allergens as my pasta is.


  1. Im going to make this.....Carm

  2. looks and sounds delish - will have to try it!

  3. Could you tell me how much peppers do I have to put (in grams)? Is this for 4 people? Sorry but I am used to the metric system. :) Thanks for your help!

  4. Hi Lazza
    I am not good with the conversions either. Here is a website i use: