Red peppers, fresh herbs enhance pasta

DINNER TONIGHT

Dinner Tonight

October 11, 2006|By Joe Gray | Joe Gray,Chicago Tribune

This pasta of Italian flavors takes advantage of red peppers and fresh herbs still abundant in farmers' markets, or maybe in your garden if you've planted them.

The recipe calls for fresh thyme and oregano, but many other herbs would substitute just as well. Think basil or marjoram.

For dessert, sliced fresh peaches with a splash of liqueur (such as the Italian lemon-flavored limoncello) make a simple and refreshing ending. A simple biscotti alongside wouldn't hurt.

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Penne With Red Peppers and Fresh Herbs

Serves 4 -- Total time: 38 minutes

1/2 pound penne pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, sliced in 1/4 -inch-wide strips

1/2 teaspoon salt (divided use)

4 green onions, white and some green, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) whole, peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained

1 tablespoon each, fresh: thyme leaves, oregano leaves

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat a stockpot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until just softened, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add peppers and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, stirring to coat with oil; cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, thyme, oregano, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste in a food processor; process until tomatoes are roughly chopped. Transfer to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Stir pasta and reserved 2 tablespoons of pasta liquid into sauce; cook over medium heat to allow pasta to soak up some of the sauce, about 3 or 4 minutes. Divide among 4 serving bowls; top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese.

Per serving: 359 calories, 10 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 56 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams protein, 627 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber

Menu suggestion

Radicchio-and-arugula salad; Penne with red peppers and fresh herbs; Crusty rustic bread; Fresh peaches with limoncello

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