Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My other expensive and time consuming hobby

The unbloggable knitting proceeds - although I really need to get back to my seafoam stitch scarf and finish it up, as it's getting cool enough here to start wearing it. Since I've started knitting, I definitely appreciate the charms of cooler weather more!

Since I have no pretty knitting pictures to post, I'll share a recipe for my roasted red pepper cream sauce instead. I know Lola was asking after this, so: free to a good home. I meant to take pictures when we made this pasta over the weekend, and failed to do so. But this sauce ends up being a delightful bright orange color, and it looks great with some chopped parsley sprinkled over. It's not entirely my creation - my roommate Jane, when I studied abroad, made her family recipe a few times, and I loved it. This version is what I've cobbled together from my memories of her recipe, plus the addition of garlic and some spiciness. Now that I think about it, I don't think she bothered with a roux, either, and just blended all the cream with the peppers, but if you're using milk rather than cream, the roux helps to thicken the sauce nicely.

Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

1 medium yellow onion, roughly diced
3 red bell peppers, roasted with skins, seeds, etc removed* (or 1 12 oz jar of same)
3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on your heat tolerance)
3/4 c milk or cream, divided (I've used 1% milk just fine here)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
Parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, to taste
1/2 c chopped parsley leaves (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan; saute onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and black pepper until onions are softened and translucent. Roughly chop the peppers and add to onions, heating through. Place mixture in blender, add approximately 1/4 c milk/cream and blend until a smooth puree is achieved. Reserve in blender.

In the saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add flour and cook the resulting roux, stirring continuously, for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the remaining milk/cream in several-tablespoon increments, stirring well and allowing the sauce to thicken.

Once all the milk/cream is incorporated, add the onion-pepper mixture back to the saucepan, stirring well to combine and heating through. Season to taste with additional black pepper, salt and/or Parmesan cheese.

Toss over 1 lb dried pasta, cooked, and garnish with chopped parsley (or, in our house, more Parmesan cheese).

*To roast bell peppers, I usually core and seed the peppers, slicing them top-to-bottom into thirds or quarters. Line a baking sheet with foil, place the peppers skin side up, and stick under a preheated broiler for 6 to 10 minutes, until the skins are completely blackened. Fold the foil tightly around the peppers and let them sit for 15 or so minutes, to steam the skins off, then peel them when they're cool enough to handle. I particularly love this method because a) I don't have to hunt around for a paper bag, b) I don't have to turn the peppers around constantly while in the oven and c) the baking sheet doesn't get covered in sticky pepper juices. I am all about the easy clean-up. Those of you lucky enough to live with gas appliances get to just scorch them on the stovetop, but this is a pretty good method for those of us with electric ranges.

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