I big pink puffy heart bell peppers. This is big, all. I don’t just throw around the term ‘big pink puffy heart.’ I mean, that’s not something you say all willie-nillie like. Only the truest of the true, the purest love of all, can be big pink puffy heart love. And peppers fall into that category. Right along side these pink cable knit bootie slippers I got for Christmas that I’m wearing now.
Peppers. And booties. Swoon-inducing.
So I guess bell peppers are kind of an acquired taste? Maybe? I once saw them on a list of the top 10 love ‘em or hate ‘em foods. People really hate bell peppers? Oh, that hurts me so! Look. That’s an actual real tear.
Acquired taste. Pa-shaw! I’m thinking those that haven’t acquired it should really take a second look. They are so flavorful and delicious. And versatile.
Oh bell peppers, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
I love thee raw in my salads and sandwiches
I love thee in my chili, soups and stews
I love thee piled high on my Italian sausage. (at Portillos specifically)
I love thee roasted, sauteed and stuffed.
I love thee in every which way!
Now Eric, he has no love for the bell pepper, much to my sadness. I’m pretty sure his complaint is commonplace among the pepper haters out there – he says it takes over the dish and it’s all you can taste.
Well. Hmpf. Okay, okay. It’s a strong flavor, I’ll give him that. But it’s a DELICIOUS strong flavor.
Well, Eric had to go out of town this past week for work so I did what any normal girl would do when her husband is away – I gorged myself on bell peppers. In the form of this absolutely fab chunky, tomato/bell pepper pasta sauce called peperonata.
I found this recipe in an old cookbook I stole borrowed from my mom. I’m not sure where she got it but with a name like Great Taste, Low Fat, it sounds kinda gimmicky, doesn’t it? Like something you might find in the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper – right next to the tunics with matching elastic pants, orthopedic shoes and creepy dolls that NO ONE EVER BUYS. It’s actually a really nice book, with pics of every recipe (all of which are under 400 calories) and some really delicious dishes inside! Including this one! (PS…Mom, if you want this book back, let me know. I know you said I could borrow it, but I don’t think you said I could KEEP it. LOL.)
This is such a fun and refreshing pasta topping, with warm, chunky tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs. I bet this would be SO GOOD with the bounty from your very own garden this summer. The ingredients are simple, but they come together really nicely. It’s not heavy (only 295 calories per serving! Before cheese, of course) so it’s a pasta dish you can feel good about eating.
The recipe recommends using wagon wheel pasta, which I really like but have a hard time finding for whatever reason. I subbed in a flower shape, which was fine, but didn’t really allow for the sauce to get all stuck in the nooks and crannies like a wheel shape would. I kinda miss that. And I’m not sure what I was thinking getting the tri-colored stuff…I hadn’t had it in a while and thought it might be fun, but it turns out it has a phony-baloney chemical dye taste to it that I just can’t recommend.
So, don’t be like me…you know…all “oooo. purty colors. me buy this now.” Resit. Really, you’ll thank me. If you can find whole wheat wagon wheels (whoa. that’s a mouthful!) I’d go with that as my first choice!
As far as other changes go, I left out the black olives because I’m not a big fan, but if you like ‘em by all means add them. I’m sure they’d bring a great salty bite and tang. Instead of the olives, I added a chopped shallot for a mild onion flavor in the background. And I had a pint of grape tomatoes on hand, so I used those instead of chopped tomatoes – I just cut some of the bigger ones in half.
PEPERONATA PASTA (Recipe adapted from: Great Taste, Low Fat)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow or additional red pepper, diced (I used another red, but I’d go with the yellow to punch up the color and wow-factor. It’s just that red was on sale and yellow wasn’t…so yeah…red it is. This cheapness. It’s a problem. )
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced (I used one pint of grape tomatoes, cutting the larger ones in half. Also…on sale.)
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped Calamata olives (I omitted)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces wagon wheel pasta (Ruote)
- In a large skillet, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the bell peppers, shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, broth, basil, parsley, olives, salt and black peppers. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the the flavors have blended and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just tender. Drain well. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Cook until the pasta is just warmed through, about 1 minute. Serve with an additional sprinkling of herbs and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings.